Headaches are considered one of the most common unpleasant conditions in humans. There is hardly a person who had never experienced some sort of headache or searched for an advice, remedy or treatment to stop it. Pain we feel in our head is of the same origin like any other form pain in any other part of our body. When specific nerve fibers get over-stimulated by different outer and inner irritation source, especially by strong excitement and straining of any type, they get more sensitive and could cause us feel pain. They transfer signals from stimulants to certain points in our brain and our body literally becomes aware of the stress, so we feel ache.
However, we are prone to value some types of pain more than others and get really concerned over them, while some forms of pain we take for granted. Headaches are often considered worrying, especially if they are really strong or won’t cease for some time. The assumption that something is wrong with our head threatens us.
Although headaches may seem alarming, our personal sense of it sometimes has nothing to do with the real medical image. There are serious brain damages and diseases characterized by the complete absence of pain or negligible ache. On the other hand, some really dramatic seizures of headaches are totally harmless to our health.
While migraines and other very unpleasant conditions followed by head pain are quite common, a head pain caused by coughing is an unusual type of head pain. Some people experience sharp and short head pain when they cough or make some similar sort of straining, such as sneezing, blowing their nose, laughing, singing or else. They usually don’t consider it a big deal and don’t get really worried about it, unless the pain is long lasting and repetitive.
However, experiencing head pain when coughing could be a warning. All head pains are symptoms, not diseases themselves. Headaches caused by coughing could be both harmless and signs of some serious and even life threatening conditions. They are divided in two categories: primary cough headaches and secondary cough headaches.
- Primary cough headache
Primary cough headache is an unpleasant phenomenon, but it is completely harmless. It occurs when a person coughs or makes similar kind of straining. These actions make pressure in our head and could make us feel pain. This sharp pain occurs suddenly and usually withdraws within one second to half an hour. It disappears spontaneously, leaving no damage to our brain, head and health in general. It usually means our nerves are more sensitive in particular period.
If you’ve ever got a headache when or after coughing, it is very important to determine which type it was. Before you go to see a doctor, here are some characteristics of this type of headache that might help you understand it better. Primary cough head pain usually lasts a few seconds or minutes; there are rare cases when it go on up to two hours.
The pain itself is splitting, stabbing and sharp and the both sides of head are affected; it may be stronger at the back of the head. This short and sharp pain could sometimes be followed by a dull head pain that could last much longer. The actual cause of this type of headache is unknown. There is no underlying pattern that causes them.
- Secondary cough headache
In about 40% cases of cough headache, the clinical image is far more serious. It is not a negligible percent. If you’ve experienced such type of head pain, you should certainly see a doctor to make your mind free of any suspicion or treat underlying condition on time, if any.
Cough headaches, classified as the secondary type, could be symptoms of some really dangerous diseases and health conditions. It could be the sign of a cerebral defect that could affect some basic brain’s functions and make it unable to keep the balance. A secondary cough head pain could also indicate a cerebral aneurysm and weakening of blood vessels’ walls in the brain. Moreover, it could also be the symptom of brain tumor, which is an alarming condition that may demand a surgery. It could also indicate a leak in cerebrospinal fluid and an unnatural skull shape.
Secondary cough headache appears the same way as primary. However, there are few other signs that could indicate the condition is more serious. The pain could last longer and be followed by dizziness. Patient who’ve experienced secondary type of cough headache often feel unsteady. Fainting may also occur. Those signs are an alarm that something could be wrong with our brain, which is the reason to go and see a doctor immediately.
How to help yourself?
If you’re suffering from the primary cough headache, there is no need for serious brain analysis or treatment. You can help yourself with some certain medications, but that is not necessary. If head pain is not strong and you can tolerate it, there is no actual need to take medication. The pain usually cease spontaneously.
However, there are some medications to prevent primary cough head pain, such as Acetazolamide, Indomethacin and Prophanolol. If symptoms get worse or won’t cease, consult your doctor. Before taking any medications, seek for your doctor’s approval, of course.
The case of secondary cough headache demands a thorough medical examination. So, if the pain lasts to long or is accompanied with fainting, feeling of unsteadiness and dizziness, it is important to see a doctor. An expert would most likely suggest to do MRI, CT scans and other brain-imaging tests, in order to get a right diagnose on your condition. Treatment could include medications such as Naproxen, Phenelzine, IV dihydroergotamine, Ergonovine, Methysergide. Some cases are more serious and they may demand a surgery procedure, needed to remove the tumor or fluid in the brain.
How to prevent cough headaches?
The best way to prevent getting cough head pain is to prevent the actions that cause coughing or similar straining in your head. You should treat flu and lung infections, since they could cause coughing.
You should also avoid remedies that could trigger coughing as a side effect. Straining on the toilet may sound funny, but it could cause you the same type of pain, so regulate your digestion and prevent constipation. Avoid lifting of heavy objects, as well.
Experiences with cough headache
There are many people suffering from this phenomenon. According to personal experiences of people suffering from this condition, it could be caused by various factors. On the other hand, when they’ve learned the cause, they could treat it proper way. Healthy and balanced nutrition is of an extreme importance for overall health. Balancing their diet, some people efficiently got rid of terrible cough head pain. For example, too much salt could cause cough head pain. In one particular case, a patient got advised by his doctor to limit the salt intake and the headaches ceased shortly after. He did numerous brain imaging tests before that and none of them had showed any defect or problem.
Some medications could also affect our nerves and brain. Some people who were taking ACE inhibitors for kidney problems got severe cough headaches that hadn’t ceased for more than a year. After stopping them and replacing with other medications, the problem was efficiently gone. Those patients also had no actual brain damage or other underlying condition.