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Coughing is your body’s natural way of removing irritants from your throat. Sometimes, a forceful cough may hurt your chest and abdomen.

However, if you frequently experience stomach aches whenever you cough, this may be a sign that there’s something else going on in your body.

Depending on the underlying cause, stomach discomfort from coughing may vary in intensity from a mild or dull ache to sharp, severe pain.

And it might not just be caused by coughing. Your stomach may also hurt when you laugh, sneeze, or exercise.

Any sudden or ongoing stomach pain experienced with other symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor. Due to the various causes of stomach pain, you should never self-diagnose yourself.

This article will review some of the most common causes of stomach pain that may be exacerbated by coughing. See a doctor if you experience symptoms related to the following conditions.

Potential conditionSymptoms
appendicitisabdominal swelling or bloating,
fever,
nausea or vomiting,
constipation or diarrhea,
decreased appetite
cystitisfrequent urination,
cloudy or dark urine that’s also foul-smelling,
blood in your urine,
general feelings of unwellness
diverticular diseaseabdominal pain,
bloating,
nausea or vomiting,
fever or chills,
bowel changes, such as constipation or diarrhea,
blood in your stool (rare)
endometriosissignificant pain in the lower back, pelvis, and abdominal areas, especially during menstruation, sex, urination, and bowel movements
gallstonesabdominal pain that’s severe and lasts for at least 30 minutes at a time,
abdominal bloating,
pain in your upper back or right shoulder,
fever or chills,
jaundice,
gas or indigestion, especially after eating fatty foods,
nausea or vomiting
herniabulging in your belly or groin area along with pain that gets more severe when you cough, sneeze, lift heavy objects, or pass bowel movements
kidney stonessevere abdominal pain,
severe pain on one or both sides of your back,
stomach ache,
cloudy or foul-smelling urine,
bloody urine,
fever or chills,
nausea or vomiting
ovarian cystslower abdominal pain (mild to severe),
sharp pain in the side of your stomach,
abdominal bloating or swelling
pancreatitisabdominal pain that gets more severe over time,
pain in the abdomen that spreads to your lower back,
abdominal swelling,
loose or foul-smelling stools,
unintentional weight loss
weak pelvic muscleslower abdominal pain and urinary incontinence, which may be worsened when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exercise

Appendicitis means your appendix is inflamed. When this happens, you may experience severe abdominal pain that gets worse when you cough, sneeze, and exercise.

Other symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • abdominal swelling or bloating
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • decreased appetite

There’s no one single cause for appendicitis. But it’s important to identify and treat this condition before your appendix ruptures.

Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency that’s most often treated with surgery to remove your appendix. Mild appendicitis may also be treated with antibiotics.

Lower abdominal pain is also just one symptom of cystitis, a common type of urinary tract infection.

Other symptoms include:

  • frequent urination
  • cloudy or dark urine that’s also foul-smelling
  • blood in your urine
  • general feelings of unwellness

Cystitis is more common in women, and mild cases resolve within 3 days. However, if symptoms get worse, you should see a doctor for diagnosis. They may prescribe antibiotics for treatment.

Recurring and severe cases may be a sign of interstitial cystitis (IC). You may have severe pain around your stomach, pelvis, or bladder that gets worse with activity.

Medications and lifestyle changes can help manage IC. Surgery is a less common option.

Diverticular disease occurs when small sacs push out against weak spots of your colon.

While mild cases don’t cause any symptoms, progression of this disease may cause:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever or chills
  • bowel changes, such as constipation or diarrhea
  • blood in your stool (rare)

If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor. Once diagnosed with diverticular disease, your doctor may recommend a combination of medications, a high fiber diet, and probiotics.

Blood in your stool is rare with this condition, but it’s considered a medical emergency.

In the United States, endometriosis affects at least 11 percent of women aged 15 to 44.

It occurs when tissues similar to uterine lining grow outside your uterus. This results in significant pain in the lower back, pelvis, and lower abdominal areas, especially during:

  • periods
  • sex
  • urination
  • bowel movements

Endometriosis isn’t considered a medical emergency, but it can cause infertility.

If you experience the above symptoms, along with digestive issues or bleeding between periods, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Gallstones occur when there’s too much bile, bilirubin, or cholesterol built up in your gallbladder. While asymptomatic at first, gallstones can lead to gallblader attacks as they get bigger.

Symptoms of gallstones include:

  • abdominal pain that’s severe and lasts for at least 30 minutes at a time
  • abdominal bloating
  • pain in your upper back or right shoulder
  • fever or chills
  • jaundice
  • gas or indigestion, especially after eating fatty foods
  • nausea or vomiting

Gallstones may be surgically removed. Or your doctor may prescribe medications that help dissolve the gallstones.

Signs of a medical emergency include persistent fever and chills, sweating, and clay-colored stools.

Hernias occur when an organ — typically the bowel — pushes through a gap in the muscles of the abdominal wall. You may notice bulging in your belly or groin area.

You may experience pain that gets more severe when you:

  • cough
  • sneeze
  • run
  • lift heavy items
  • pass a bowel movement

If the gap is large enough, the bowels may slide in and out of the gap easily. This isn’t considered an emergency.

If the bowel gets stuck, it’s an emergency. The blood supply to that part of the bowel is usually cut off and that section of the bowel can die.

Emergency symptoms include:

  • severe pain that doesn’t get better upon rest
  • significant abdominal bulging or bloating
  • increased heart rate
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting
  • inability to pass a bowel movement

Hernias may be effectively treated with surgery to help repair gaps in your abdominal area.

Kidney stones consist of hardened deposits that are usually found in urine. When a kidney stone passes through your bladder and urethra, you may experience severe abdominal pain.

A persistent stomachache is also associated with this condition.

Other symptoms include:

  • severe pain on one or both sides of your back
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • bloody urine
  • fever or chills
  • nausea or vomiting

Kidney stones may resolve on their own with or without medication. Drinking extra water can also help.

If the stone is too large to pass, however, your doctor may recommend surgery. Emergency surgical removal is also warranted in cases of infection or if the stone blocks your ability to pass urine.

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can develop in ovaries. Most ovarian cysts aren’t cause for concern, even when they burst. Your body naturally takes care of them as part of the normal menstrual cycle.

However, an estimated 8 percent of premenopausal women have large ovarian cysts that require treatment.

Symptoms of problematic ovarian cysts include:

  • lower abdominal pain
  • sharp pain in the side of your stomach
  • abdominal bloating or swelling

Mild cysts may be treated with birth control pills. Surgery is typically reserved for large cysts that don’t respond to medications, or for those that are deemed cancerous.

In some instances, a ruptured cyst may cause severe abdominal pain along with:

  • heavy bleeding
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever
  • rapid breathing
  • dizziness or fainting

If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. Cases can be more acute or chronic, with acute pancreatitis causing more severe symptoms at first.

Chronic pancreatitis may lead to permanent damage of your pancreas.

Symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain that gets more severe over time
  • pain in the abdomen that spreads to your lower back
  • abdominal swelling
  • loose or foul-smelling stools
  • unintentional weight loss

While not considered a medical emergency, weak pelvic floor muscles can cause pain and discomfort in some people with vaginas.

This is a common condition that affects an estimated 1 in 3 women in the United States.

Lower abdominal pain and urinary incontinence are common symptoms of pelvic floor disorders, which may be worsened when you:

  • cough
  • laugh
  • sneeze
  • exercise

Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor exercises or medications to help alleviate your symptoms. More severe cases may require physical therapy or surgery.

Coughing is a natural reflex. But if it exacerbates or induces stomach pain, it’s important to talk with a doctor.

This is especially the case if you’re experiencing any other unusual symptoms.

Due to the wide range of health conditions that can affect the abdominal area, it’s crucial to obtain a correct diagnosis.