We have heard so much about coronavirus in the last six months that some are finding it overwhelming. Others are living in fear that even the slightest symptoms indicate a COVID-19 infection. For example, experiencing pain when coughing is enough to cause the average patient to start thinking coronavirus.
Experiencing pain when you cough is generally a sign that something is wrong. But it does not mean you have a serious illness. There are dozens of conditions that can produce pain in the chest during coughing episodes. See a doctor if you are concerned, but do not panic.
To illustrate the point, here are five things that can cause chest pain when coughing, compliments of Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, Texas:
1. Acute Bronchitis
Patients suffering from acute bronchitis are experiencing an upper respiratory infection likely triggered by a viral infection. It is not uncommon for people to develop bronchitis from a cold or a bout with the flu. Bronchitis pain is the result of two things: overworked lungs and strained chest muscles.
Most cases of acute bronchitis are viral in nature. As such, antibiotics are completely ineffective as a treatment. The condition is generally allowed to run its course while patients are encouraged to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and use OTC medications to reduce coughing fits.
Pneumonia can be especially painful due to its nature. It is a condition that involves inflammation of the lungs, particularly the alveoli. Said inflammation leads to shortness of breath, coughing (both productive and dry), fever, and chest pain. Pneumonia can be viral or bacterial as well. If it is the latter, antibiotics will usually be prescribed.
Just as the lungs can be inflamed, so can the pleura – a thin lining that protects the lungs and separates them from the rest of the chest wall. Sharp pain in the chest and back is one of the more noticeable symptoms of pleurisy. Any coughing, whether related to the condition or not, only intensifies the pain.
Pleurisy is sometimes caused by an infection. However, it can also be caused by lung cancer, autoimmune diseases, and even some medications. Most cases clear up on their own.
Asthma sufferers know coughing pain all too well. They suffer from a chronic respiratory condition that presents itself as inflammation of the airways. It can inhibit breathing and cause the chest to feel tight. Unfortunately, chest tightness often leads to excessive coughing which, over time, can injure the chest muscles. Overworked muscles and lungs contribute to the pain experienced when coughing.
Doctors tend to treat asthma with medications designed to reduce inflammation. Patients can help themselves by limiting their exposure to things that trigger their symptoms.
When the costal cartilage in the chest becomes inflamed, the condition is known as costochondritis. This is often an acute condition and one that is sometimes confused with chest pain caused by heart attack. Costochondritis is rarely a serious condition, and it normally resolves by itself.
The pain associated with condition is related to the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. If this cartilage is inflamed, a dull pain will result. That pain can be exacerbated every time the patient coughs.
There are many other conditions known to cause pain when you cough. Again, not all of them are serious. In fact, most are relatively minor. If you are experiencing a cough accompanied by chest pain, by all means talk with your doctor. No need to panic, though. In all likelihood, you are dealing with something that is very easily treated.