Why Does My Head Hurt When I Cough?

Nov 20, 2021

With flu season and cooler temperatures right around the corner, you might be bracing yourself for sniffles and coughs. Many seasonal allergies, colds, and even the flu can cause head pain when coughing. This might leave you wondering “why my head hurts when I cough,” and the answer is: it depends! There are many reasons why you might experience head pain when coughing, and your chiropractor in Atlanta can help you work through that pain as you heal and recover. Continue reading to learn more about the connection between coughing and head pain.

What Causes Head Pain When Coughing

When you visit the doctor about a cold, one of the first symptoms you might share is how “when I cough, my head hurts.” In order to treat the cause of your coughs and head pain, your doctor will need to determine the cause of those symptoms. Here are the two types of cough headaches and what types of health conditions they may signal:

Primary Cough Headaches

Primary cough headaches are the most common type and are typically temporary and do not cause any lasting issues. Whether you have a cold, are sneezing due to allergies, or even laughing too hard, the pressure that builds up while you cough can end up causing a headache. An increase in pressure on the head can cause uncomfortable headaches and pains.

Secondary Cough Headaches

Secondary cough headaches are less common because they are typically due to an underlying condition like a brain disorder. Causes of secondary cough headaches may include a brain tumor, hydrocephalus, or a condition that affects your cerebrospinal fluid.

Symptoms of Cough Headaches

If you have a cold or flu, then headaches, coughing, and sneezing can all be symptoms that you might experience. However, cough headaches can also occur without a cold or allergen present. If you have head pain when coughing, it can feel like a sharp or stabbing pain. You may experience head pain while coughing or afterward. Many people also report a dull ache after the coughing as the pain subsides. These are typical symptoms of a primary cough headache. Your doctor will be able to help determine whether you are actually experiencing a secondary cough headache if you have other symptoms that include dizziness and feeling unbalanced or faint.

Treatment Options for Head Pain When Coughing

You can try at-home remedies to help ease the pain and discomfort of primary cough headaches from your home. If you have a cold or flu causing your coughing, consider medications that help reduce those specific symptoms. If your coughing is related to allergies, then clearing your sinuses can help remove the allergens from your body and even reduce the pressure on your head. One of the best things you can do for your body as it heals is to get plenty of rest. This gives your body time to develop an immune response while you sleep. You should also drink plenty of fluids, including warm beverages like hot tea with honey and lemon to help soothe a sore throat.

If your coughing and head pain persists, then visit a doctor for more treatment options and support. Certain medications can help to reduce your coughing and also help with accompanying issues like inflammation and pressure. If you struggle with head pain when coughing during specific times of the year, like certain allergy seasons, then you can also be proactive and visit your chiropractor in Atlanta for preventative measures. This can include spinal adjustments to help restore proper alignment in your spine and joints and reducing inflammation in your mucus membranes. Your chiropractor can also help relieve pressure on your head that is causing you pain. Visit your doctor as soon as possible if you start to experience any loss of balance, faintness, or dizziness along with your head pain and coughing or if you have a headache that lasts for more than two hours. Your chiropractor in Atlanta may also want to use diagnostic imaging tools like an X-Ray or CT scan to check your brain and spinal cord for any potential issues contributing to your cough and head pain.

Learn more about how you can benefit from chiropractic care with our team of doctors at AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta.


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