Check out why does my head hurt when i cough

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A lot of people complain about experiencing headaches while coughing. Such cough headaches can vary in intensity from mild headaches to severe ones. Here, we will be discussing the question, why does my head hurt when i cough.

In the majority of the cases, these cough headaches are harmless and will go away on their own after sometime. But, the cough headaches might also be an indication of a more serious underlying health issue.

During such severe cases, proper diagnosis and treatment are very important. Otherwise, the underlying health issue might aggravate the intensity of the headache. So, let’s take a look at the cough headaches in detail.

See why does my head hurt when i cough every time

  • The people who are facing this headache while coughing might want to know about the probable reasons behind this head pain. However, it should be noted that the cause of head pain while coughing might vary in accordance with the particular type of cough headache that you might be facing. 
  • If you are experiencing head pain while coughing, then you should get yourself checked by a healthcare provider. They will examine you thoroughly to find out the type of headache that you might be suffering.
  • Thereafter, they will classify the head pain as-
  1. Primary cough headache, or
  2. Secondary cough headache

The reasons behind the development of these headaches are discussed in the later sections.

Primary cough headache causes

In case you are wondering why does my head hurt when i cough, then the chances are high that you might be suffering from a Primary cough headache. So, let’s take a look at the causes of this headache.

  • In the majority of the cases, the primary cough headache is triggered by the sudden pressure that is experienced in the abdominal region while coughing. 
  • Because of the strain experienced in the abdominal area, there might be an increased pressure build-up in the head. This can in turn lead to the development of a headache.
  • However, it should be kept in mind that there are plenty of other activities which can trigger similar headaches. These include heavy excretion, sneezing, bowel movements, and laughing.
  • In the case of primary cough headache, you do not have to worry much as it has no link to any brain disorder or other severe health conditions.

Secondary cough headache causes

If you are curious to find out why does my head hurt when i cough, then you should take a look at the causes of secondary cough headaches.

  • Secondary cough headaches can be regarded as quite complicated, and proper diagnosis and treatment are very important in this case. These headaches are usually caused by an underlying health issue, such as a brain disorder.
  • In the majority of the cases, it has been observed that this condition occurs because of Chiari type I malformation. It can be considered as a defect in the structure of the skull.
  • In Chiari type I malformation, the lower section of the brain, or cerebellum, descends through the base of the skull into the upper portion of the spinal canal.
  • The secondary cough headaches can also occur because of a number of other reasons. Some of the commonly observed ones are listed below.
  1. Obstructive hydrocephalus / excess buildup of fluid in the brain.
  1. Miscellaneous posterior fossa lesions (A type of brain tumor)
  1. Spontaneous low cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure because of an internal leak of spinal fluid.
  • So, it is appropriate to say that in the case of Secondary cough headaches, diagnosing and treating the underlying condition is indeed very important.

Primary cough headache symptoms

Distinguishing the type of cough headache that you are experiencing is very important in order to plan the treatment correctly. If you are thinking why does my head hurt when i cough, then let’s take a look at some specific symptoms associated with primary cough headache.

  • In most cases, this headache will last for about 30 minutes to around 2 hours.
  • Sharp or stabbing head pain.
  • Mild ache continues after the initial pain goes away.
  • The head pain occurs on both sides of the head, or any one side. 
  • Sudden pain during or after coughing.

Secondary cough headache symptoms

Now, let’s take a look at the symptoms that are commonly observed in the case of Secondary cough headaches.

  • The duration of Secondary cough headaches can last anywhere between a few seconds to several days, or weeks.
  • Stabbing pain or dull ache.
  • Varying location of headaches.
  • High intensity head pain.
  • Varying duration of headaches.
  • Dizziness and fainting.
  • Feeling unbalanced.
  • It should also be noted that the secondary headaches can also have other triggers besides coughing.

Home remedies and  Medical Treatments

It should be noted that only the primary cough headaches can be managed with the help of home remedies. In the case of secondary cough headaches, you should undergo the prescribed treatment after proper diagnosis.

  • In order to alleviate the primary cough headache, you should take some over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines such as ibuprofen.
  • Sometimes, these headaches can also occur because of the cough caused by a cold or flu. During such instances, you should try out some flu remedies to reduce coughing, as well as the headache.
  • Clearing the sinuses can also be considered as a very efficient method by which you will be able to reduce the pressure in the head.
  • Talking warm beverages (water with honey and lemon) can also reduce the coughing tendency by soothing the throat.
  • The medications that can be used for treating cough headaches include ergotamines (migraine headaches),  beta-blockers, anti-inflammatory drugs, acetazolamide, etc.
  • In the case of a secondary cough headache, the doctor might ask the patient to get a CT or MRI scan done. The doctor will decide the course of treatment after evaluating the results of the scan.

So, we have seen why does my head hurt when i cough. As discussed above, the head pain that occurs while coughing can be classified into two categories. In the case of primary cough headache, you need not worry much, and it will go away within a very short period of time. The secondary cough headache, on the other hand, can be quite troublesome, and requires appropriate treatment.

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