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.
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. May be 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