Disease: Cough headaches


    Cough headaches are an unusual type of headache triggered by coughing and other types of straining — such as from sneezing, blowing your nose, laughing, crying, singing, bending over or having a bowel movement.

    Doctors divide cough headaches into two categories. Primary cough headaches are usually harmless, occur in limited episodes and eventually improve on their own. Secondary cough headaches are more serious, as they can be caused by problems within the brain. Treatment of secondary cough headaches may require surgery.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Primary cough headaches

    • Begin suddenly with and just after coughing or other types of straining
    • Typically last a few seconds to a few minutes — some can last up to two hours
    • Cause sharp, stabbing or splitting pain
    • Usually affect both sides of your head and may be worse in the back of your head
    • May be followed by a dull, aching pain for hours

    Secondary cough headaches

    Secondary cough headaches often have symptoms similar to those of primary cough headaches, though you may experience:

    • Longer lasting headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Unsteadiness
    • Fainting

    When to see a doctor

    Consult your doctor if you experience sudden headaches after coughing — especially if the headaches are frequent or severe or you have any other troubling signs or symptoms, such as imbalance or blurred or double vision.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Primary cough headaches

    The cause of primary cough headaches is unknown.

    Secondary cough headaches

    Secondary cough headaches may be caused by:

    • A defect in the shape of the skull.
    • A defect in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. This can occur when a portion of the brain is forced through the opening at the base of the skull (foramen magnum), where only the spinal cord is supposed to be.

      Some of these types of defects are called Chiari malformations.

    • A weakness in one of the blood vessels in the brain (cerebral aneurysm).
    • A brain tumor.
    • A spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Your doctor may recommend brain-imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, to rule out other possible causes for your headaches.

    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). During an MRI, a magnetic field and radio waves are used to create cross-sectional images of the structures within your head to determine any problems that may be causing your cough headache.
    • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. These scans use a computer to create cross-sectional images of your brain and head by combining images from an X-ray unit that rotates around your body.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Preventing the actions that trigger your cough headaches — whether that's coughing, sneezing or straining on the toilet — may help reduce the number of headaches you experience. Some preventive measures may include:

    • Treating lung infections, such as bronchitis
    • Avoiding medications that cause coughing as a side effect
    • Getting an annual flu shot
    • Using stool softeners to avoid constipation
    • Minimizing heavy lifting or bending for long periods

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Primary cough headaches

    Risk factors for primary cough headaches include:

    • Age. Primary cough headaches most often affect people older than age 40.
    • Sex. Men are more prone to getting primary cough headaches.

    Secondary cough headaches

    Risk factors for secondary cough headaches include:

    • Being younger than age 40

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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