It is a common experience that your head hurts when you cough hard. This is most often seen in people having cold and dry cough, and the pain in the head may be more on bending over. Your head hurts when you cough hard because coughing may pressurize the head, chest and neck when you cough hard. It is also known as cough headache. As there are many factors affecting this condition, it is important to know its causes and remedies to cure it.

In most of the cases, the headache on cough hard may alleviate on its own without treatment, but at times it may persist for long. Knowing the factors that cause your head to hurt when you cough hard can help to manage the condition better.

Why Does the Head Hurt on Coughing Hard?

Why Does the Head Hurt on Coughing Hard?

There are many reasons that cause your head to hurt when you cough hard. If your head hurts when you cough hard, it could be a primary cough headache or a secondary cough headache.

Primary Cough Headaches

In this type, you head may hurt suddenly when you cough hard and may last for few minutes or hours. The headache maybe stabbing and very sharp pain and may occur all over your head, mainly at back. The pain in the head may turn into dull pain which lingers on for few minutes and alleviates automatically. In this case, the cause of you head to hurt on coughing hard could be because of sudden increase in intracranial pressure which occurs when the body reacts to your hard coughing.

Secondary Cough Headaches

In this type, your head may gradually hurt when you cough hard and may last longer. Headache may be accompanied with dizziness, feeling of being unsteady or fainting.

  • It can occur due to other underlying conditions like problems with the brain or structural abnormalities, etc.
  • Some conditions that can cause your head to hurt when you cough hard include abnormal skull shape, leakage in cerebrospinal fluid or cerebral aneurysm or weakness of wall of blood vessels in brain.
  • Sometimes, cerebellar defect which adversely impacts the brain's ability to control balance too can cause the head to hurt when you cough hard.
  • In some cases, the cough headache could be due to the presence of a tumor in brain; because motion of coughing can irritate the tumor in their brain.

Thus, secondary cough headache is very serious and it is advisable to seek medical opinion if your head hurts when you cough hard.

Other Factors That Can Cause Your Head to Hurt When You Cough Hard

Coughing hard can cause the muscles in your neck, forehead, chest and scalp to strain. Persistent coughing can strain muscles and also reduce blood circulation in these tissues, thereby causing your head to hurt when you cough hard.

Some of the factors causing headache on coughing include:

  • Smokers usually cough hard and dry, which often strains their muscles. This is a common cause of headache when coughing hard. Smokers are also likely to develop chronic bronchitis and hence they may cough frequently and experience cough headaches more often.
  • Allergy to mites, dust and pollen can also irritate the throat and may cause recurrent coughing. Allergic cough can also be a reason to experience headache.
  • Asthmatic patients are also likely to suffer from strained scalp and neck muscles which can lead to headaches on coughing hard
  • Dry cold weather can also cause irritation in throat and this may lead to dry cough which may cause your head to hurt.
  • Infection and inflammation of larynx and pharynx often causes dry cough and straining of vocal cord. This is also another common condition that can trigger headache when you cough hard.

What are the Remedies to Cure Headache on Coughing Hard?

Treatment for Headache on Coughing Hard

If your head hurts when you cough hard, it is better to seek medical opinion. A clinical examination and history may give an idea of the possible causes. However, investigations, like blood tests and brain imaging tests may also be ordered to find out the underlying condition.

Treatment is essential if you experience headache frequently on coughing hard. Appropriate treatment can be initiated after the underlying cause is known. Doctors will follow diverse treatment approaches depending upon the type of headache and underlying causes.

  • Treatment for Primary Cough Headache – To treat the primary cough headaches, you will be prescribed regular medications to keep the pain in head under control. The drugs prescribed for primary cough headaches usually treat the underlying causes and may include treatment for cough.
  • Treatment for Secondary Cough Headache – The secondary cough headache is treated by treating the cause that leads to head pain when you cough hard. If the condition can be managed with medicines, appropriate treatment is given, while in some cases, surgery is recommended to treat the problem.

Home Remedies to Cure Headache on Coughing Hard

Some of the home remedies to cure the condition include:

  • Garlic & Grapes: Consume garlic and grapes in large quantity daily can be an effective home remedy to alleviate cough headaches and its related symptoms.
  • Grape Juice & Raw Honey: You can prepare grape juice mixed with raw honey which is quite effective home remedy for treating dry cough. You can also mix pepper powder and honey with water and drink the mixture to alleviate coughing and cure your head from hurting when you cough hard.
  • Lemon: Take a lemon, cut into half and cover it with black pepper and salt and suck the lemon to decrease the urge for coughing. It can also help to prevent and cure the pain in head when you cough hard.
  • Salt Water Gargles: Sore throat can be treated by gargling with lukewarm salt water which can control cough and also stop your head from hurting when you cough hard.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 8, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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