Cough headaches are an unusual type of headache triggered by coughing and other types of strain — 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.

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

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

a. Longer lasting headaches
b. Dizziness
c. Unsteadiness
d. Fainting

Source: Mayoclinic

  1. March 1, 2019

    Headache only triggered by coughing is a rather uncommon condition. The diagnosis of primary cough headache is made when headache is brought on and occurs only in association with coughing, straining or a Valsalva manoeuvre and in the absence of any abnormalities on neuro-imaging. In case an underlying pathology is identified as a cause of the headache, the diagnosis of symptomatic cough headache is made.

  2. March 8, 2019

    Great stuff! This article includes discussion of primary cough headache, cough headache, benign cough headache, and Valsalva maneuver headache. Headache only triggered by coughing is a rather uncommon condition. A headache is secondary when it is caused by another condition. The term is used to distinguish this type of headache from the primary headache disorders like migraine, tension-type headache, or cluster. Thanks and keep up the great work!

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