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Chest pain when coughing: causes

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The sensation of pain in the chest when coughing can alarm many people. It is easily related to organs such as the lungs or the heart makes us instinctively think about some critical health problem. Although these can be causes of chest pain, the reality is that the most likely options are less serious ones.

Whatever causes chest pain, the reality is that coughing can make it worse. Do you want to know why it is? Keep reading the following article by FastlyHealin which we talk about chest pain when coughing: causes.

Chest pain when coughing: causes

The chest pain to coughing is very usual when certain conditions are suffering from the respiratory system. Here we explain what the leading causes are:


The flu, also known as influenza, is one of the most common viral infections globally, especially as a consequence of its easy contagion. The flu appears abruptly, with intense symptoms from almost the first moment. The main symptoms of the flu are:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle pains.
  • Chest pain.
  • Shaking chills.

Unlike the common cold, which we’ll talk about next, flu symptoms tend to be stronger and longer-lasting. On the other hand, respiratory discomfort is more minor, although with greater bodily involvement. It is common to have chest pain when you have the flu, something that can be increased if you cough. The flu is much more common in the cold seasons. However, it can appear at any time of the year.

Common cold

The cold is an infectious viral disease of the respiratory system. It is more common in children than adults and has its most muscular symptoms in the first three days. In addition to general discomfort, a sore throat, and increased mucus, coughing is one of the most common symptoms. If it repeatedly occurs or is accentuated, it can cause chest pain.

Although they are often confused, the flu and the common cold are two different conditions. Just as the flu presents the symptoms that we have mentioned before, the manifestations of the common cold are limited to the respiratory system, and, on rare occasions, fever appears. Cold symptoms appear progressively around the third day of infection, lasting about a week. The main symptoms of the cold are:

  • Nasal congestion.
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Throat pain.
  • Permanent cough

The fact that it affects the respiratory system is responsible for it is among the leading causes of chest pain when coughing. In addition, permanent coughing can accentuate these discomforts.

Acute bronchitis

We speak of bronchitis when the bronchi are inflamed, that is, the tubes that connect the lungs with the trachea and through which the air passes. After an infection or inflammation in the bronchi, the respiratory capacity is significantly reduced, both when inhaling and exhaling, causing symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Mucus.
  • To.
  • Chest pain.
  • Pain in the back

The leading cause of acute bronchitis is usually a viral infection, often resulting from a poorly treated cold. However, it can also be due to a bacterial infection. The fact that the lungs cannot receive all the air they need causes a tightness in the chest accompanied by pain. Chest pain when coughing can still be identified.


Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the airways to narrow due to inflammation. The consequence is that the air has difficulties passing, and the lungs widen. When we say that it is a chronic disease, we mean that it is something that will last for life and, although it usually appears in childhood, it can be diagnosed at any time in life.

Asthma affects the airways by inflaming and narrowing them. If it is not diagnosed or treated correctly, it is widespread to suffer chest pressure, difficulty breathing deeply, wheezing, or chest pain when coughing.

It should be noted that the symptoms, the severity of these, and the frequency with which they occur can vary from one person to another. The symptoms of asthma are as follows:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up mucus
  • Wheezing when breathing.
  • Chest pain.

In addition, in severe episodes, other symptoms may appear, such as:

  • Bluish-colored lips and face.
  • Mental confusion and drowsiness.
  • Acceleration of the pulse.
  • Sweating

At the moment, we do not know the cause of asthma. However, it is known that certain genetic and environmental factors intervene in its appearance, especially in childhood. For example, one clear thing is that allergy sufferers are much more likely to suffer from asthma.


Pneumothorax, also known as a collapsed lung, is the medical name for when the lung is perforated at some point and air leaks. The direct consequence of pneumothorax is that the space around the lungs fills with air, which prevents it from expanding, causing apparent symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

Lung collapse can occur internally. However, the most common is that it is due to a thoracic perforation, for example, by a car accident, a gunshot, or an injury. Although it may seem very serious, and at a certain point it is, the reality is that it is not usually a risk for the patient if it is treated quickly and adequately. The pressure caused by the air outside the lungs causes pain in the chest that is accentuated when you cough.

Skeletal muscle injuries

When we suffer an injury to the muscles or bones of the chest or nearby, the pain will intensify when coughing. Fissures or fractures in the ribs, rib cage, sternum, or spine will cause intense chest pain when coughing, which can also appear when breathing, standing up, or performing specific movements.


Both the lungs and the chest cavity are lined with a layer of tissue known as the pleura. These layers fulfill specific functions in lung health since, on the one hand, they stimulate the lubrication of the lungs so that they can expand quickly, and, on the other hand, they function as protection. In addition, between the pleura of the chest cavity and that of the lungs, there is a space filled with pleural fluid, which prevents the lungs from hitting the chest wall when inhaling.

Pleurisy or pleurisy is when the pleura becomes irritated or inflamed, causing both layers to rub together when the lungs expand or cough. The main symptom is pain, of variable intensity depending on the person and the severity.


Costochondritis, also known as syndrome costosternal or Tietze, is inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the sternum (costosternal joint) that produces sharp and stabbing pain. It is the most common cause of chest pain and can appear in young people and adolescents, being more frequent in women or older adults.

The ribs are connected by cartilage to the sternum except for the last two. When this cartilage becomes inflamed, the lesion is known as costochondritis, Tietze syndrome, or costo-sternal syndrome. The main consequence is a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest, which intensifies when coughing or performing specific actions.

Costochondritis is one of the leading causes of chest pain when coughing, and among its leading causes, we find:

  • Thoracic injuries
  • Lift weights.
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Exerting too much effort when coughing.
  • Certain types of arthritis.

What can cause chest pain

We have already told you about the leading causes of chest pain when coughing. However, chest pain can appear as a result of other health problems. However, the following conditions that can cause chest pain do not necessarily have to be increased by coughing:


When we have high levels of anxiety, one of the main symptoms that appear is the sensation of tightness in the chest, a discomfort that can end up leading to chest pain. Although many patients tend to confuse them with more critical health problems, such as a heart attack, the reality is that it is not severe. However, the fact that it is not dangerous to health does not mean that it should not be treated, even more so in those cases in which anxiety makes life difficult for the person.

That is why it is recommended to see a psychologist help treat anxiety. Also, in the following FastlyHealarticle, you can find some tricks to cure anxiety.

Gastroesophageal reflux

Some intestinal issues, such as gastroesophageal reflux, can trigger chest pain. Unlike other conditions that we have been explaining throughout the article, heartburn does not cause stabbing pain but rather a burning in the sternum, especially after eating. In turn, chest tightness may also appear, a solid and constant pain, but not stabbing.

Heart problems

One of the primary and best-known reasons that can cause chest pain is problems with the heart, especially myocardial infarction. This pain is normal and radiates to other body parts, such as the jaw, back, or left arm. Other common symptoms are:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Breathing difficulties.

Studies carried out show that the greater the chest pain derived from heart problems, the higher the mortality rate. [1]

When to see a doctor for chest pain

If chest pain appears that does not disappear over time, you should go to the doctor so that they can make a correct diagnosis. Depending on the symptoms you present, the doctor may ask you for an electrocardiogram that rules out problems in the heart.

In addition, they may also request a chest X-ray and a CT scan to observe the airways and heart and rule out that there is a problem at the lung level. Other symptoms that should be considered when making a diagnosis are:

  • Crushing pain.
  • Stiff neck and chest.
  • Palpitations
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw and back.
  • Dizziness.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting and nausea

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Chest pain when coughing: causes, we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category.

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