Head Hurts When I Cough

Have you ever wondered, "Why does my head hurt when I cough?" It's actually a pretty common problem that most people encounter at some point during their life, especially during times of sickness. Sometimes known as "cough headaches," these headaches that occur when you cough are often caused by the pressure that is created when you cough. If you are worried that "My head hurts when I cough," read on to figure out the causes and treatments.

Is It Primary or Secondary Cough Headaches?

Cough headaches are very common, but that doesn't make them any easier to deal with when you have one. These headaches can be divided into two types: primary and secondary.

Primary cough headaches tend to begin very suddenly, just after a cough, and continue for anything from a few minutes to a few hours. The pain is very sharp and stabbing, and usually occurs all over the head, especially at the back. It might then turn into a dull pain that lingers for a while.

Secondary cough headaches tend to last longer than primary headaches. They might also come with dizziness, a feeling of being unsteady, and even the urge to faint. In addition to "my head hurts when I cough," these headaches can make you feel truly awful from head to toe.

When to See a Doctor

The occasional sudden headache is probably okay, but if you experience this every time you cough, it's time to talk to the doctor. Get to the doctor as soon as possible if you suffer from blurred or double vision, balance problems, or headaches that worsen and do not go away.

What Causes Headache When You Cough?

My head hurts when I cough – but why? There are many reasons why the headache is triggered by a cough. Primary headaches are probably caused by the sudden increase in intracranial pressure that occurs when your body reacts to a cough.

Secondary cough headaches are more worrisome, because they usually come from other underlying conditions, such as a distorted skull shape or problems with the brain. This sounds frightening, but for some people, it might simply be caused by certain structures of their body. For others, the situation might be more serious, such as a tumor in the brain that is irritated by the motion of coughing. That's why seeing a doctor is important.

How to Treat Cough Headaches

Cough headaches can become serious enough for treatment. The doctor might take a different treatment approach, depending upon the type of headache you have.

1. Treating Primary Cough Headache

These headaches might require daily medications to keep them under control. Common drugs prescribed for this include indomethacin, propranolol and acetazolamide. Each works differently to help with various underlying causes, so your doctor will run tests to ensure he or she is giving you the right type of medication.

2. Treating Secondary Cough Headache

These cough headaches are much more serious and might actually require surgery in order to alleviate the problem. Preventative measures usually don't work for these individuals, meaning that serious medical intervention will be necessary. Again, your doctor will do in-depth tests to determine the cause.

3. Treating Cough with Home Remedies to Stop Headache

Fortunately, most people who complain "my head hurts when I cough" can deal with the headaches at home without needing to go to the doctor. Home remedies can make things much easier to deal with. Below are a few of the options:

  • Try eating certain foods like grapes or garlic. These have been shown to help alleviate cough headaches if eaten for several days.
  • Grape juice mixed with honey is a nice cure for coughing. Another option is blending honey with white pepper powder in a bit of water and drinking that.
  • Cut a lemon in half, and cover it with salt and black pepper. Suck on the lemon to reduce the need to cough.
  • Gargle with salt water to help ease a sore throat and stop the coughs.
  • A heavy-duty remedy includes boiling one cup of water, adding a tablespoon of lemon juiceand the juice of a medium-sized onion. Then add honey to your taste and drink this up to three times daily. 
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