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Chest Pain While Coughing: Cause, Treatment, and Home Remedies

Written byNikhil Ambatkar

Last updated on : 04 Jun, 2024

Read time : 12 min

What is chest pain when coughing?

Chest pain when coughing, also known as cough with chest pain, refers to the discomfort or pain experienced in the chest area when coughing. It can be a distressing symptom that may arise from various underlying causes.

One common cause of chest pain while coughing is respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. In these cases, the cough in chest irritates the airways and causes pain or soreness in the chest. 

Additionally, a cough on chest can be associated with musculoskeletal issues. Strained muscles or chest wall inflammation can cause pain that worsens with coughing.

It is essential to differentiate cough in chest from more severe conditions like a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, which may present with similar symptoms. If the chest pain is severe, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Also read: Top 10 Cough Syrup for Dry Cough

Dry cough: What is it?

A dry cough is when you cough, but nothing like mucus or phlegm comes up. It’s a cough that feels irritating and stays in your throat. Unlike a cough that brings up mucus, a dry cough doesn’t help clear your airways. It can be bothersome because you keep coughing, but it doesn’t make you feel better.

What is the difference between a dry and wet cough?

A dry cough is a cough on chest without any mucus or phlegm coming up. It’s often caused by irritation or inflammation in your throat or airways, like allergies or a viral infection. 

On the other hand, a wet cough is a cough in chest and mucus, or phlegm, comes up from your lungs or airways. This kind of cough can happen with a respiratory infection, like a cold or bronchitis. A dry cough in chest can be irritating and uncomfortable, while a wet cough can help clear your airways by removing mucus.

Dry cough symptoms

Dry cough in chest is characterised by specific symptoms that differentiate it from other coughs. These symptoms include:

  • Persistence: A persistent cough that lacks any mucus or phlegm secretion can continue for an extended period, ranging from weeks to months.
  • Tickling or itchy sensation in the throat:  Dry cough is often accompanied by an itchy or irritating sensation.
  • Sore throat: Continuous coughing can cause the throat to become sore and inflamed, resulting in discomfort or pain.
  • Absence of mucus or phlegm: One of the distinguishing features of a dry cough is the absence of mucus or phlegm when coughing. The cough is unproductive and does not help in clearing the airways.

Causes of cough with chest pain

When you have a cold or the flu, it’s common to experience wet coughs and clear mucus from your airways. However, you may continue to have a dry cough even after recovering from the illness. This dry cough on chest can be persistent and irritating without producing much mucus.

List of 8 Causes of Cough With Chest Pain

  1. COPD Conditions
  2. Asthma problem
  3. Bronchitis and other throat infections
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Pleural tissue infection
  6. Muscle exhaustion
  7. Lung cancer
  8. COVID-19

COPD Conditions

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) covers chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In COPD, persistent inflammation and damage to the airways lead to coughing and chest pain. The chronic irritation and constriction of the airways can cause distress and tightness in the chest, making coughing more pronounced.

Asthma problem

Asthma is a long-lasting respiratory condition characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Coughing is a common asthma symptom, often accompanied by wheezing and shortness of breath. The persistent coughing associated with asthma can strain the chest muscles, leading to chest pain.

Also read: Tips to prevent asthma attacks

Bronchitis and other throat infections

Acute bronchitis, typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection, can trigger a cough with chest pain. The infection and inflammation in the bronchial tubes and throat can lead to persistent coughing and discomfort in the chest. Other throat infections, such as strep throat or viral infections like the common cold, can cause a cough with accompanying chest pain.


Pneumonia is an infection that causes lung inflammation, primarily affecting the air sacs. Along with symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever, pneumonia can cause chest pain. The infection and inflammation in the lung tissues can trigger sharp or stabbing chest pain during coughing or deep breathing.

Pleural tissue infection

Infections affecting the pleural tissues surrounding the lungs, such as pleural effusion, can lead to coughing and sharp chest pain. Pleurisy refers to the inflammatory condition of the pleura, which are delicate membranes that envelop the lungs and chest cavity. The pain may worsen during coughing or deep breathing. Pleural effusion is the fluid buildup in the pleural space, causing coughing and discomfort in the chest.

Muscle exhaustion

Persistent and forceful coughing can strain the chest muscles, leading to muscle exhaustion and subsequent chest pain. It is commonly observed in individuals with a chronic cough or repeated episodes of intense coughing. The continuous strain on the chest muscles during coughing can result in soreness and discomfort in the chest region.

Lung cancer

In some cases, persistent cough with accompanying chest pain may indicate lung cancer. Lung tumours can cause irritation, inflammation, and airway obstruction, leading to chronic coughing and chest pain. If you experience persistent cough, chest pain, or other symptoms, seeking medical evaluation for a proper diagnosis is crucial.


COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, can present with symptoms such as cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The infection primarily affects the respiratory system, causing inflammation and respiratory distress. Chest pain associated with COVID-19 may occur due to inflammation and damage to the lung tissues.

Treatment for chest pain when coughing

Most of the time, dry cough on chest goes away independently if you have strong immunity. However, the treatment for chest pain when coughing depends on the underlying cause and seriousness of the condition. It is essential to consult with a doctor for proper diagnosis and guidance.

Home Remedies For Chest Pain Due To Cough

Home remedies can provide relief for chronic cough. Some home remedies that may help alleviate chronic cough include:

  • Honey and warm water: Consuming honey and warm water can soothe the throat and reduce coughing.
  • Steam inhalation: It can be beneficial by breathing in steam from hot water to alleviate mucus congestion and ease coughing.
  • Ginger tea: Sipping ginger tea is known to assist in reducing inflammation and providing throat relief.
  • Saltwater gargle: Gargling with warm salt water help reduce throat irritation and ease coughing.

How to prevent dry cough and chest tightness?

You can take several measures to prevent a dry cough in chest.

Practice good respiratory hygiene

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have respiratory infections.

Stay hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water to keep your airways moist.
  • Opt for warm liquids like herbal teas, soups, and water.

Avoid allergens

  • Stay away from smoke, including cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke.
  • Minimise exposure to pollutants and allergens that can trigger cough and chest tightness.

When to see a doctor?

If your dry cough in chest persists for more than two weeks or worsens over time, seeking medical attention is essential. Additionally, if your cough on chest is accompanied by severe shortness of breath or wheezing, it could indicate an underlying respiratory condition. 

If you notice blood in your cough or sputum, seeing a doctor immediately is essential, as it could indicate a severe underlying condition. Moreover, a high fever accompanying your dry cough may indicate an infection requiring medical treatment.

OTC medicines for cough and chest pain

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can relieve cough and chest pain. Here are some standard OTC options:

  • Cough suppressants (e.g., Dextromethorphan)
  • Expectorants (e.g., Guaifenesin)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g., ibuprofen or Aspirin)
  • Lozenges or throat sprays  (e.g., Vicks)


Cough in chest can be a distressing symptom, but it is essential to remember that it can have various causes, ranging from minor irritations to more serious underlying conditions. Understanding the potential causes and seeking appropriate medical evaluation is vital for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

While home remedies and over-the-counter medications can provide temporary relief, consulting a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalised treatment plan is always recommended. 

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Frequently asked questions

What are the three common symptoms of bronchitis?

The three common bronchitis symptoms are cough, often producing mucus or phlegm, chest discomfort or tightness, and shortness of breath.

Is it necessary to use antibiotics for a chest infection?

It is not always necessary to use antibiotics for a chest infection, as most chest infections are caused by viruses, which are resistent to antibiotics. However, bacterial chest infections may require antibiotic treatment.

What type of cough is associated with pneumonia?

A productive cough with mucus or phlegm is commonly associated with pneumonia.

Does persistent coughing have an impact on the heart?

Persistent coughing can impact the heart, increasing the workload on the heart and leading to strain.

Can a cough be a sign of heart failure?

A cough can be a sign of heart failure, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, and inflammation in the legs or ankles.

Is a cardiac cough characterised as wet or dry?

A cardiac cough is often characterised as wet, as the production of foamy or pink-tinged sputum may accompany it.

How can I determine if my cough is due to a chest infection?

To determine if a cough is due to a chest infection, a medical evaluation by a doctor is necessary, which may include a physical examination, chest X-ray, and other diagnostic tests.

Which medication is effective for relieving a chesty cough?

Medications such as expectorants or mucolytics can effectively relieve a chesty cough by helping to thin and loosen mucus in the airways.

Does a cough related to coronavirus cause chest pain or discomfort?

A cough related to coronavirus can cause chest pain or discomfort, among other respiratory symptoms. It is essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have COVID-19 or are experiencing severe symptoms.

How to relieve a tight chest and cough?

Some home remedies to relieve a tight chest and cough are using honey, steam inhalation, drinking warm fluids, and garaging salt water.

How to relieve chest pain from coughing?

To relieve chest pain from coughing, try using cough drops, staying hydrated, and using a humidifier to soothe the airways.

What medicine is good for cough and tight chest?

Over-the-counter cough syrups with expectorants or decongestants can help relieve cough and chest tightness. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Should I go to the doctor if my chest hurts when I cough?

If chest pain persists or is severe, it’s advisable to consult a doctor to rule out any serious underlying conditions and receive appropriate treatment.

Can cough cause chest pain?

Yes, persistent and forceful coughing can cause chest pain. It may result from muscle strain or irritation of the chest wall. If the pain persists or is severe, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and appropriate management.

How to relieve a tight chest and cough?

To relieve a tight chest and cough, stay hydrated, use cough medications, and consider warm tea or honey. If symptoms persist, consult a healthcare professional.


The content provided within this article has been thoroughly verified for accuracy. However, we advise consulting a healthcare professional before utilising any medication or dietary supplements mentioned herein.


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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.


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