When I cough, My Head Hurts. What Could be the Reason?

Sometimes, you may wonder why my head hurts when I cough. This is a common problem people experience and is at times known as cough headache. It occurs mainly because of pressure, which tends to be created when one is coughing, but it may also occur due to crying, sneezing, or laughing. You may have heard or experienced a situation where the head hurts when you cough and bend over. People with dry cough or who have had cough for a couple of weeks may encounter this problem.

Coughing induces pressure that pushes the chest, neck, and head thereby resulting in headache and pain that affects other parts of body. A benign cough headache is considered to be bilateral and having sudden onset. So, what does it mean when you say that head hurts when I cough?

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Types of cough headaches

Cough headaches may be categorized into primary and secondary types. Primary cough headaches begin suddenly after a cough and may continue for a few minutes or hours. They are characterized by sharp pain that is stabbing and attacks the entire head particularly the back.

The pain may dissipate and turn into a dull ache that can linger for sometime before it eventually disappears. These headaches may also arise from things like crying and laughing and last for a short time. The head will throb for a few seconds after coughing, then it diminishes.

After another bout of coughing, the head throbs again. A person has a bursting headache, which makes him or her feel as though everything is pressed out. An individual might feel as if their head has been hit by a hammer from inside. The acute phase of such headache will often be followed by heaviness and some dull pain occurring at back of head, which may continue for some time.

Secondary cough headaches tend to be more serious. These coughs occur because of malformation in the skull or when certain portions of brain protrude at base of skull. These headaches are quite persistent and medical interventions may be needed to correct the malformation of the skull.

Secondary cough headaches might come with feeling of being unsteady, dizziness, or urge to faint. They can make one to feel awful on not only the head but also the entire body. A patient should seek medical help if they are experiencing these headaches every time they cough. Occasional episodes of the sudden headaches may not be a major problem because they clear out soon and the causes are not life threatening.

But for secondary type of the cough that keeps on reoccurring will need attention of a doctor. See a doctor if you have other symptoms such as balance problem, double vision, blurred vision, or headaches that are worsening and not dissipating.

head hurts while coughing woman

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Causes of cough headaches

Many things would make the head to hurt when I cough. A sudden intracranial pressure is responsible for the primary type of cough headaches. The pressure occurs when the body reacts to action of cough. When you cough, you create pressure in the head that might cause pain and headache.

The secondary type is worrying because of the underlying cause. It mainly occurs when there is distorted skull shape. It may occur when there is problem with brain. In some people, it may arise due to certain structures of the body. Sometimes, it may be due to tumor in brain, which is being irritated by coughing.

Therefore, a person who has secondary cough headache needs to see a doctor for screening to determine the underlying cause and how it can be treated. There are causes of coughing which may result in headaches such as smoking and allergy reaction. People who do smoke cigarettes may suffer chronic bronchitis and they tend to have headaches because of the persistent coughing.

People who have allergy reactions to dust, chemical fumes, pollen grains, and smoke may have irritation of throat and subsequent coughing. Dry weather may cause dryness in throat area, which causes coughing thereby triggering headaches. Asthma may also cause coughing.

People who have inflammation of larynx or pharynx may begin to cough and their head consequently hurts. The inflammation may be caused by infections such as viral and bacterial. It may also be due to environmental pollution or overusing the voice box.

A dry cough or a situation where a patient finds it difficult to expel the phlegm may experience headaches quite often. Sinusitis may induce intracranial pressure that lasts for a short duration but is likely to result in headache. This kind of headache will occur when you try to bend the head or when you cough.


Treatment of cough headaches

In case the head hurts when I cough, it would mean that I need to seek for treatment. A person who experiences persistent headache that tends to aggravate when they have a bout of sneezing or coughing, they should see a doctor. This ensures that any serious ailment is ruled out.

When such coughs are left untreated, they may lead to complications like pneumonia and bronchitis. Depending up the type of headaches, there may be different treatment approaches that can be applied. In case of primary cough headache, medication may be needed to manage and control them.

Drugs like acetazolamid, propranolol, and indomethacin may be recommended. Each of these medications is intended to work different and helps with various causes, therefore, a doctor will conduct tests to make sure he or she is administering the right medication for the underlying cause of the headache.

With secondary cough headaches, they are serious and surgical interventions may be needed. Most of the preventive measures tend to fail in treating these headaches. Home remedies such as eating grapes and garlic can help alleviate headaches. The remedies can relieve coughing such as grapes, garlic, and honey.


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