Why Does My Upper Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

Coughing is a common reflex that helps clear mucus and other irritants from the lungs and airways. However, some people may experience upper stomach pain when they cough. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of upper stomach pain when coughing.

Diaphragm Strain

The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and plays a crucial role in breathing. When you cough, the diaphragm contracts and moves downwards, causing a sudden increase in abdominal pressure. This can strain the diaphragm, causing pain in the upper stomach.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. GERD can cause upper stomach pain, heartburn, and coughing. Coughing associated with GERD can be triggered by the acid irritating the throat and lungs.

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and into the chest cavity. Hiatal hernias can cause upper stomach pain, heartburn, and difficulty swallowing. Coughing can also aggravate hiatal hernias and cause pain.


Costochondritis is a condition in which the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed. This can cause pain in the chest and upper stomach, which can be exacerbated by coughing.


Pleurisy is inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs, which can cause sharp pain in the chest and upper stomach. Coughing can worsen pleurisy pain by increasing pressure on the inflamed lining.

Muscle Strain

Coughing can also strain the muscles in the chest and upper stomach, causing pain. This is particularly true for individuals who cough frequently or forcefully.

Other Causes

Other less common causes of upper stomach pain when coughing include pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung cancer. These conditions can cause coughing and upper stomach pain, but they are typically accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath and fever.


Upper stomach pain when coughing can be caused by a variety of factors, including diaphragm strain, GERD, hiatal hernia, costochondritis, pleurisy, and muscle strain. It is essential to identify the underlying cause of the pain and seek appropriate medical treatment if necessary. If you experience frequent or severe upper stomach pain when coughing, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying conditions.

Was this article helpful?