Why Does My Head Hurt When I Cough, Let’s Know: Cough headaches are usually harmless and transient. Secondary cough headaches are more severe and may be linked to brain abnormalities.
Find out if your symptoms are due to a simple cough or something more serious. We examine both home cures and medical treatment options. The causes of cough headaches vary depending on whether the pain is primary or secondary.
Why Does My Head Hurt When I Cough, Let’s Know
Primary Cough Headache
A primary cough headache can be caused by abrupt abdominal pressure caused by coughing. It may cause a headache.
Other activities can cause headaches. These are:
- Bowel motions
- Abdominal straining
A primary cough headache is unrelated to any brain or other health issues.
Secondary Cough Headache
A neurological issue causes a secondary cough headache. Secondary cough headaches are most commonly caused by Chiari type I monstrosity. A Chiari malformation is a skull structural flaw. The cerebellum descends through the base of the skull into the upper spinal canal.
Secondary cough headaches can be caused by:
- Various posterior fossa lesions (brain tumours).
- Obstructive hydrocephalus, or brain fluid buildup.
- Low CSF pressure due to an internal spinal fluid leak.
The above disorders may cause a secondary cough headache. For example, you are changing your head or body posture.
According to a 2013 review trusted Source, primary cough headaches are more common in men and those over 40.
A primary cough headache can brief, but it can continue for up to 30 minutes. People have reported the primary headache lasting up to 2 hours in some cases trusted Source.
Other symptoms of a primary cough headache include as follows:
- Pain on both sides of the head; however, it may be on only one
- Pain that is stabbing or sharp
- Pain that appears unexpectedly, during or after coughing
- A lingering discomfort that persists after the acute agony has subsided
A secondary cough headache can last from a few seconds to several weeks.
Among the symptoms of a secondary cough headache are:
- High level of agony
- Headaches with varying locations
- Headaches of varying length
- Piercing agony or a dull aching
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling off-kilter
Aside from coughing, several factors can contribute to a secondary headache.
Cough headaches can treat at home. Also, identifying and treating the coughing cause may help relieve headaches. Ibuprofen, an OTC pain reliever, may help alleviate headache pain. Coughing and headaches caused by a cold or flu might be reduced by cold or flu medicines. Clearing the sinuses may also help relieve head pressure.
Some home remedies for a cold or flu are:
- Resting well
- Using OTC Cough Syrup
- Drink warm beverages like honey and lemon water
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- An annual flu shot for those at risk
- Rinsing hands after coughing
Hot drinks with honey and lemon can help relieve a sore throat and make people feel superior when they have a cold or flu.
If people cannot treat the cause of their coughing at home, they may need to consult a doctor. A doctor may recommend medicine to treat a cough caused by a cold or another underlying ailment, such as bronchitis.
The doctor may prescribe antiviral medication if a patient has the flu. A doctor may also recommend the following remedies to treat primary cough headaches:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin
- Acetazolamide is an anti-fluid and anti-salt drug that aids the body
- Migraine sufferers often turn to ergotamines for relief.
These drugs can aid in reducing inflammation and coughing, as well as the relief of coercion and fluid buildup in the skull.
If a human has a secondary cough headache, the underlying cause must treat. A doctor will order a CT or MRI scan next to rule out any brain or spinal cord issues.
Surgery may require any abnormalities of the skull or brain stem.
- Brain tumour removal
- Restore normal cerebrospinal fluid flow
- Excess fluid pressure in the head should be relieved
- Repair the holes that are permitted spinal fluid to leak
Surgery may aid in treating the illness, reducing symptoms and preventing the disorder from progressing further.
A Doctor’s Visit
In addition, most cases, a primary cough headache resolves on its own. A doctor should see severe or long-lasting symptoms.
See a doctor if you:
- Headache and dizziness
- Severe pain or headache
- A headache lasting 2 hours or more
- Coughing-induced headaches
- Fever, chills, or unexpected weight loss
- A headache that changes intensity when you change posture or position
A doctor can perform a bodily exam and any required tests to determine whether a coughing headache is primary or secondary. After deciding the headache’s type and origin, a doctor will devise a treatment plan.
The Bottom Line
Coughing might cause a headache in some people. It is generally due to excess abdominal pressure causing increased head pressure. A primary cough headache is caused only by coughing, sneezing, or straining. Primary cough headaches are harmless and self-resolving. A secondary cough headache is caused by a brain condition such as a tumour or a skull abnormality.
Coughing can cause a primary cough headache. Taking OTC cough or pain medicine may assist, as well as resting. The underlying cause of subsequent cough headaches must treat. Also, if someone has a primary or secondary cough headache, or if their symptoms are severe or long-lasting, they should consult their doctor.