Head Hurt When I Cough: Primary and Secondary Headache

head hurt when i coughWhy Does My Head Hurt When I Cough?

Have you ever had a headache after coughing? If yes, hear me out! It is quite natural or normal to have. Sometimes, coughing or sneezing can trigger a headache, so there is nothing to worry. All you need to do is avoid spreading it from severity.

Headache vanishes on its own in most cases, yet it may turn up to its more severe condition, causing a panic. It is a common situation many people dealt with from time to time.

The better idea to make you encounter this situation is to keep learning the type of headache. Moreover, getting an idea on how to cope with it helps a lot avoiding it.


Causes To Spark Cough-Headache

When you sneeze, huge pressure from the belly& the chest puts a massive effect on the head. Now, most cases which cause headache, are as follows:

  1. When you sneeze
  2.  And when you laugh a lot
  3. When you bend over
  4. When you have some worry about anything

Coughing normally may tend to minimize the chances of getting a headache. But, intense coughing makes you more disturbed having a severe headache. Forceful coughing increases the risks of getting worse.

There are two types of headaches; both of these categories may occur because of pressure applied to headache. A back of your head hurts when you encounter this condition. It is on the doctor who classifies your headache in which type, i.e. primary or secondary headaches.


Primary Headache

It affects relatively less population of the world, i.e. 1%

As it very rare type, so it’s not found often. People having age about 40 years can have this type of headache usually. It causes pain in the front of the head or back of the head. Several chances are there, to trigger headache on both parts of the head.

Cough headache doesn’t cause one-sided or unilateral side effect on the head.

There are equal chances of getting affected with primary headache in both men and women.



There can be a couple of symptoms that represent primary headache such as follows:

  • Period of pain. Pain from several seconds to several minutes
  • Stabbing pain. Irritation instantly produces the stabbing pain.
  • It can be long-lasting effecting your behavior to behave rudely and sanely.
  • Pain starts at the same time or after the coughing.

However, the causes of primary headache are still unknown as no sufficient arguments and evidence are there to answer this question. Hopefully, you’ll have causes of primary headache until researchers reach a specific reason behind it.


Secondary Headache

As per doctor diagnosis, you can have a secondary headache. Unlike primary headache, its symptoms can be some extra along with primary headache ones.

Chiary type 1 malformation is the most common cause of secondary cough headache.

The lower part of the brain descends on the upper part of the spinal cord so that Chiary malformation can cause defects in the skull- structure.

Excessive buildup of fluid can influence cough headache during or after the coughing, i.e. obstructive hydrocephalus.

Internal leakage of spinal fluid can fetch you pressure on your brain, producing a secondary headache.

If you have a brain tumour, there’re possible chances to have a secondary headache.

Many other conditions are there that lead to secondary headache underlying the main causes of secondary headache. E.g. Weightlifting, variations in the body posture, and laughing loudly.


  • High pain. There is severe pain starts at the beginning leading to a defect in the structure of the skull.
  • You might be feeling dizzy while doing routine work; somehow, you feel your head heavy.
  • Imbalance in the body. You might fail in maintaining the balance within your body, e.g. walking stumbling.
  • Stabbing pain. After the headache’s initiation due to coughing, you might be wondering where it has its source from. Yeah, it is from the cough headache.
  • Changing positions of headache. Variably changing your positions get you various disorders, including headache as it is most common to face.
  • Disorder in behavior. There may be bad temperament resulting in behavior changings.
  • Blurry vision. Short-sightedness or long-sightedness represent to have a secondary headache.
  • Secondary headache can have other reasons that can initiate it besides coughing and sneezing.


Home Remedies

Getting involved with head hurt when cough is common, but if specific measures should be taken, then a reduction in headache occurrence. The more you undertake home remedies, the more chances of avoiding it will be there.

Avoiding the factors that enhance the chances of getting a headache can help you eliminate it beforehand.

If you face cough due to cold and flu, then dealing with home remedies of flu might help to decreases possibilities of getting a headache as follows:

  • Using warm liquids such as water, honey, and milk can assist you encountering headache.
  • You should use plenty of water to improve the digestive system.
  • Taking rest should be helpful to avoid it.
  • Cleaning your hands all the time and cleaning with good soap while coughing are the best ones to help you out.
  • Over-the-counter pain medication helps you to relieve the headache occurring due to coughing or sneezing usually.
  • Hot beverages help you to keep your throat set and well-functioning in case of cold or flu.
  • Get adequate sleep to improve your body functions.

If you’re practising these home-remedies, chances are there to improve your immunity level.

Additionally, avoid going to crowded places, e.g. shopping malls, markets, and functions.

P.S. In this corona crisis, you may follow social distancing and washing your hands most of the time. Wearing masks may keep you stay healthy and comfortable.

Breathing in steam can clean your breathing vessels to keep the flow rate moderate avoiding the resistance.

Primary headache once gets established; it is hard to treat at home with home remedies. On the contrary, we can treat secondary headache at home in most of the cases.

But, there’s quite a need to address the causes due to which you have to have headaches, i.e. primary or secondary.

Medical Treatments

Primary Cough Headaches

  • We may follow the various treatments to overcome primary headache.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. Usage of anti-inflammatory drugs gets you a reduction in inflammation and minimizing the possibility to encounter coughing.
  • Blood-pressure maintenance. Blood pressure medication helps you to reduce the risk factors of blood-flow variations.
  • Brain-vessels. Relaxation of the blood vessels in the brain may help you a lot.
  • Using diuretics may get you out of spinal fluid and pressure within the brain. An excessive amount of fluids and salts are thrown out of the body with it.

Secondary Cough Headache

To cure the secondary cough headache, you may have ‘surgery’ to remove

  • Brain-tumor. You need to remove brain tumour either by surgery or by any other treatment.
  • The normal flow of fluid. Maintain the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid is the best one to keep out of danger.
  • Surgery might be helpful to relieve pressure on the skull.
  • Fluid leakage. To control the leakage of fluid surgery should be undertaken for patch holes.

There are other multiple treatments to overcome the causes of secondary cough headache, which are as follow:

  1. Radiation
  2. Chemotherapy
  3. Combination of these treatments along with surgery.

If you have things that cause secondary cough headache, there’s dire need to address them accordingly.

When To Visit A Doctor?

Head hurt when you cough. Occasionally, getting a headache is expected, but you must consult a doctor if you notice the following symptoms.

  • Confronting with new cough-headache is a sign of starting headache. You must see a physician in this case.
  • Blurred vision is another clue of getting alert of the severity of cough headache.
  • Frequent headache. Frequently facing headache will get you involved with its side-effects, so, it’s better to come up with proper treatment.
  • Experiencing severe pain in the upper or lower part of the brain is siren of danger.

After a headache diagnosis, whether it is primary or secondary cough headache, you’ll have to get instant treatment as per doctor recommendations.



Facing head hurt when i  cough, sneezing, bending over is not an exceptional case, but a usual one.

Coughing headache can be of two types, i.e. primary cough headache and secondary cough headache.

The symptoms represent the headache, whether it is primary or secondary. However, the secondary headache may have some other symptoms than those of primary ones.

Blurry vision, stabbing pain, dizziness, and imbalance in the body are the most common symptoms.

Using sufficient water, taking rest, cleaning your hands, and staying away from crowded places may help you avoid causes of coughing headaches.

Usage of Anti-inflammatory drugs, maintenance of blood pressure, and keeping the brain vessels clean helps treat a primary headache.

In order to have better treatments of secondary cough headache, you should treat the brain tumour. Moreover, leaking of fluid is to be avoided in various ways. I.e. chemotherapy, surgery, and radiations.

Consulting a doctor would assist to lead a peaceful and healthy life avoiding hurt head when cough.


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