Why Do Lungs Hurt When You Cough?

Closeup of a chest scan
Closeup of a chest scan (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)


Pain in your lungs is the result of many possible causes. As a respiratory issue, pain can be an indication of a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia. The pain is also associated with shortness of breath caused by acute or chronic bronchitis, an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Finally, chest pain is also one of the many side effects of smoking.

Doctor listening to patient's chest
Doctor listening to patient's chest (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


According the Mayo Clinic, pneumonia is an inflammation of your lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. The infection ranges from mild to life-threatening, and usually includes other symptoms such as shaking chills, fever, muscle ache, and chest pain. Inflammation occurs in the alveoli, which are microscopic air sacs in the lungs. When they fill with fluid from infection, it is difficult for them to bring oxygen to the blood and release carbon dioxide. As the lungs have to work harder, pain develops along with shortness of breath.

Pneumonia sufferer
Pneumonia sufferer (Image: Tom Le Goff/Digital Vision/Getty Images)


Acute and chronic bronchitis are infections located in the lining of your bronchial tubes. These tubes bring air to your lungs, and when inflamed cause irritation. While acute bronchitis usually takes care of itself by subsiding, chronic bronchitis lasts and may cause discomfort due to damaged bronchial tubes after a long period of inflammation. Chronic bronchitis is common in those who frequently smoke.

Bronchitis sufferer
Bronchitis sufferer (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


Smokers and former smokers may experience chest pains after an extended period of cigarette smoking. Nicotine and other harmful ingredients in cigarettes damage your lungs, and if the damage is severe it can cause angina pectoris. This disease will cause your chest to feel like it is being crushed, and it is caused by an inadequate supply of oxygen to your heart muscle. Shortness of breath usually occurs with chest pains, and also "smoker's cough," which indicates damaged lungs also known as emphysema.

Cigarette in an ashtray
Cigarette in an ashtray (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

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