Coughing Headache!! How long do they last?

Coughing headaches are defined by severe head pain, follow by a headache upon coughing, and are not associated with a sneeze, strain, stoop or exert headache

Although coughing, and exerting very seldom gives a headache, they can aggravate any headache. I've seen my wife hold her head in her hands when she has a migraine, and has to cough.

But a cough "headache" is different.

These coughing headaches have been around since day one. Originally described by Tinel in 1932 as "la cephalee al effort", and later by Semonds, a cough headache usually is experienced by middle age men. And they may run their course in a few years. A cough headache is only seen in about one percent of people.

It's so uncommon that the Mayo Clinic only saw 93 people with a coughing headache in a period of fourteen years. And one can imagine how many thousands of headache/migraine suffers they treat a year.


Here's what a benign cough headache is.

  • This headache is a bilateral headache that comes on suddenly upon coughing, and lasts less than a minute, but one could have a dull ache for several hours.
  • If someone can prevent themselves from coughing (we know how hard this is), this headache can be avoided.

  • This headache will have to be diagnosed after a doctor has ruled out anything serious such as a tumor, or cerebral aneurysm.

Although many clinicians put cough headaches, and exertion headaches together since the treatment response is similar, the international headache society classifies the cough headache, the exertion headache, and the headache associated with sexual activity into different groups.

It's thought that this headache may be related to blood flow due to coughing. Cough headaches usually respond to indomethacin which is a medicine to reduce inflammation.

"A bit of advice about this medicine. It's hard on the stomach. You can take a priloset or something similar to help with your stomach". If it doesn't help within a reasonable amount of time stop taking it.


There are two kinds of cough headache that can be experienced.

This is the reason someone that has cough headaches should be checked by a specialist, to see which kind they are suffering with.

  • The first is the benign cough headache, and responds to indomethacin .
  • The second is called symptomatic cough headache. If one suffers with double vision, are younger than fifty, and don't respond to indomethacin, then they need an MRI to see what's going on.

We hope this has explained a bit about a cough headache, and if you have just started having these, go have yourself checked out. Don't take chances. Many have their headaches to "hurt" more when they cough, but when a cough gives one a headache it's time to find out why this is happening.

Thanks for reading

Our next page covers neck headaches, and our last is also about a neck headache. Move back to our home page from coughing headachesEducate yourself on headaches/migraines with books

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