Head hurts when i cough. Why?

Head hurts when i cough. Why?
January 31 08:25 2017

Have you ever feel a headache when you cough? This is a common condition that causes problems to many people around the world. Usually, the headache caused by coughing last for a few moments. However, in some cases, you head might hurt more if you have persistent coughs. This is a type of headache that occurs due to the creation of pressure on your head and other parts of the body. Consequently, this can cause your head to hurt when you cough.


Types of cough headaches

There are two types of cough headaches namely: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not serious while secondary headaches are persistent and may require medical assistance from your doctor. Primary headaches result from the pressure that exerted on your head when you start coughing. You will feel a massive pain that disappears after some time and is not serious. On the other hand, secondary headaches may become serious when you a cough. Usually, this lasts for a long period even after you had finished coughing. This type of cough headache can make you feel dizzy and nauseous. You should seek medical help if you experience a secondary cough headache.


Symptoms of cough headaches

Cough headaches can have mild to severe symptoms depending on the type of cough headache. The symptoms of primary headaches include;

  • Sharp and stabbing pain that last for few minutes
  • A dull, aching pain may follow afterward
  • Pain on both sides of the head


On the other hand, the symptom of secondary pains includes;

  • Long lasting headache
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness

Therefore, you should visit the doctor if you experience severe headaches after coughing. Also, other symptoms such as blurred vision will require immediate medical attention.


Causes of cough headaches

Smoking: the study shows that people who are chain smokers experience acute bronchitis. Such people always complain of headaches, which result from coughing.

Asthma: this is a major cause of cough headaches

Allergies: Usually, the allergic reactions to dust, smoke, pollutant, and chemicals can cause throat irritation that leads to a dry cough. In most case, a dry cough can lead to headaches.

Inflammation of the larynx or pharynx: this leads to a dry cough that often makes your head to hurt. Viral and bacterial infection can cause this inflammation.

Diagnosis of cough headaches

Patients should seek immediate medical attention as soon as they begin to experience persistent pains after coughing. In this case, the medical practitioner will refer you to the neurologist for further assistance. During the appointment, the neurologist will request the patients to explain more about the symptoms they are experiencing.

Also, your medical history will help the doctor establish the cause of headaches. In this case, the patients will list all the illness they have suffered in the past. You should let the medical practitioner know if you had undergone a surgical operation in the past. Also, you should inform your doctor know about medications and supplements you have been using daily if there are any.

Primary headaches are not a major concern, but much attention should be paid to secondary cough headaches. Usually, the medical practitioners will do brain imaging to diagnose cough headaches. These include CT and MRI scans.

Computer Tomography (CT) scans: this is the use of the computer to create detailed images of the brain. The images will then be used to establish the cause of cough headaches.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): magnetic field and radio waves are used to create detailed images of the cranium structure. These images are very crucial for determining the cause of cough headaches.


Treatment of cough headaches

The treatment of these headaches will vary depending on whether it is primary or a secondary headache. The primary cough headaches are treated using medications that reduce or prevent pains. Indomethacin is the commonly used preventative medication that prevents inflammation. The study shows that more than 70 percent of the patients respond well to this medication.

Also, Propranolol is another medication that is offered to people suffering from cough headaches. This reduces the pressure on the blood vessels, which is essential in dealing with cough headaches. Moreover, Acetazolamide is a medication that is used to treat headaches caused by high level of spinal fluid. This helps to ease the pressure in the skull. Other medications used to treat cough headaches include; naproxen, methysergide, phenelzine, ergonovine, intravenous dihydroergotamines, and naproxen.

Lumbar puncture is the most common treatment options that involve removal of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This eases the pressure within the skull hence relieving the cough headaches. Surgery is the effective treatment option for people suffering from secondary cough headaches. It is impossible to treat secondary cough headaches using medicines because of its serious nature. The physical malformations that cause secondary headaches are corrected via surgery. It should be noted that preventative medication is not effective for treating cough headaches.


Home remedies for cough headaches

This aims at curing the cough to ease the head hurts. The home remedies for cough headaches include;

  • A mixture of lemon, black pepper, and salt. Suck half-cut lemon smeared with black pepper and salt.
  • Eating grapes provide relief for a dry cough.
  • A mixture of white pepper and honey reduces inflammation on the throat hence suppressing the cough.
  • Gargling salt water provide relief to swollen larynx
  • Boiled water mixed with medium sized onion and a tablespoonful of lemon juice provides instant relief from coughing.


Prevention of cough headaches

Avoiding the risk factors that cause cough headaches is the best preventative measure for this condition. Other preventative measures include treatment of all kinds of lung infections. Also, you should avoid medication that is associated with side effects such as coughing. Also, you should get flu shots every year. People who have been affected by cough headaches in the past should avoid bending for long or lifting heavy objects.



Most people experience head hurts when they cough. This problem is very common in most parts of the world. Fortunately, primary cough headache is not serious, and there is nothing to worry about it. On the other hand, secondary cough headache is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once you have been diagnosed with cough headaches, the medical practitioner will administer medications or surgery to treat this condition. Also, there are home remedies for dealing with coughs that cause headaches. Overall, cough headache is a condition that can be reversed through medications and corrective surgery.




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