Guide to cough headaches

Guide to cough headaches
February 09 11:26 2017

Cough headaches is a condition that is often a result of coughing as well as other strenuous activities like nose blowing, sneezing, laughing, bending over, bowel movement and even crying. It is a type of headache that is frequently caused by creation of pressure that is in turn exerted on body organs like the neck, head and chest.



Cough headaches can be conveniently classified under two major categories i.e. primary cough headaches and secondary cough headaches.

Primary cough headaches tend to have an appearance that is sudden in nature. They immediately appear following a cough and tend to continue for a period that exceeds three hours. It is characterized by acute pain that reverberates all over the headache especially at the back area. Primary headaches usually transform into pain that is dismal, it may linger temporarily before finally disappearing.

On the other hand, secondary cough headaches more often than not last for longer periods and incapacitate with a greater degree compared to primary headaches. This type of headache is normally accompanied by wobbliness, the urge to collapse and dizziness. It is a condition that causes prolonged discomfort as it can endure for several consecutive hours. This type of headache is considered to be more serious in comparison to the primary cough headaches and therefore need specialized treatment.



Both primary and secondary cough headaches have some symptoms associated with them, they are as follows:

Primary cough headaches have particular symptoms associated with them. It often starts right after coughing or suddenly as a single cough. Bending over and sneezing can result in this condition. In severe cases it can last up to 3 hours and is characterized by a stabbing, splitting or sharp pain. It affects both sides of the head but the pain tends to concentrate at the posterior of the head. Dull pain that endures for a few hours is usually experienced following the subsidence of the initial pain.

Secondary cough headaches are characterized by symptoms that closely resemble those of primary cough headaches earlier mentioned.
Other likely symptoms of cough headaches that ought to be keenly observed are double vision, imbalance or blurred vision.




The real cause of primary cough headaches is yet to be unraveled by medical practitioners. However, the cause of secondary cough headaches has been accurately established. It is believed that they are caused by several kinds of malformations. This is to mean that people who have distorted skull shapes have a higher likelihood of being affected by secondary cough headaches.

Another cause of secondary cough headaches is the presence of defects in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is an important part of the human brain that is charged with controlling body balance. A good example of a defect that can cause secondary cough headaches is Chiari malformation and is characterized by weaknesses in the circulatory vessels that function to supply the brain with blood.

A causal factor of secondary cough headaches is increased pressure exerted on the blood vessels that surround the brain. It may also be as a result of the blood vessels narrowing down.
Brain tumors and spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leaks are yet other causes of secondary cough headaches.


Risk factors

Sex and age are considered to be the 2 main risk factors for the occurrence of primary cough headaches. This is because individuals who are way above the age of 40 years have a higher likelihood of being affected compared to their counterparts.

Smoking is yet another common risk factor as it greatly exposes people to chronic bronchitis that is exhibited by heavy coughing.

Allergens like smoke, pollen grain, dust and chemical fumes are also risk factors. The reason for this is that they result in throat irritation and dry cough that are in turn main causes of cough headaches.

Abrupt weather changes can result in incessant coughing that may accompanied by headaches.

Swelling of the larynx and asthmatic attacks can cause to severe coughs that in turn lead to cough headaches.

Individuals who experience some difficulty in expelling phlegm can be affected by cough headaches.



It is recommended that individuals who begin to experience incessant pain immediately after coughing bouts should seek medical attention from qualified physicians. Practitioners often recommend that brain imaging tests are done when cough headaches are being diagnosed. The tests include CT and MRI scans.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI basically uses a magnetic field and radio waves to output detailed images of the cranium structure of the patient undergoing under the test. The images are then used by practitioners to establish the true cause of cough headaches.

Computerized tomography scans or CT scans use computers in order to output detailed images of the brain and head. The images are then used together with other images of different body parts so as to enable the accurate establishment of causes of cough headaches.




The treatment options available for cough headaches are several. The difference is as a result of both primary cough headaches and secondary cough headaches.

Generally, primary cough headaches are treated with the help of daily medication that function to both reduce the pain and even completely prevent it. A common preventive medication is referred to as Indomethacin (effective in preventing inflammation).

Propranolol is a treatment that is designed for primary cough headaches so as to decreases the pressure experienced by blood vessels surrounding the brain.

Acetazolamide is a treatment option that is used by individuals that have high volumes of spinal fluid. It effectively reduces the pressure to relive the pressure experienced within the skull.

Other treatment options meant for people with primary cough headaches include ergonovine, phenelzine, intravenous dihydroergotamine, naproxen and methyysergide.

Patients of secondary cough headaches mainly use surgery as an intervention. The reason for this is that secondary cough headaches are as a direct result of physical malformations. Home remedies used in the treatment of cough headaches are salt, black pepper, lemon, honey and paper powder.



If one avoids risk factors associated with cough headaches, then that can act as a form of prevention. Other preventive steps are avoiding medications that have coughing as a side effect. Stool softeners should be used to avoid constipation that may lead to the condition. Lung infections should also be treated promptly so as to avoid coughs.



The above insightful information clearly indicates why head hurts while coughing, dangers associated with it and how to deal with them.

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