Join Us at the Cardiology Event on Heart Disease Prevention! Register Now!
Headache When Coughing

Headache When Coughing: Understanding The Connection

Have you ever experienced a severe headache after coughing? It sure is a puzzling sensation that can leave us worried, and searching for answers. 

In today’s blog, we will get into the intriguing correlation between coughing and headaches. Let’s discover the mysteries behind this phenomenon, offering clarity and practical solutions to ease your discomfort.

Can Coughing Cause Headache?

Absolutely! Coughing can indeed trigger headaches, and understanding this connection is crucial for its effective management. When we cough, there’s a sudden increase in pressure within the head, leading to tension and pain, often referred to as a “cough headache.

Possible Causes of Cough Headache

Several factors can contribute to cough headaches, including:

  • Sinus Infections: Infections in the sinus cavities can lead to congestion and pressure, worsening headaches when coughing.

  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause nasal congestion and throat irritation, prompting severe headache after coughing.

  • Respiratory Infections: Conditions like bronchitis or pneumonia can irritate the airways, triggering pressure in head when coughing.

  • Asthma: People with asthma may experience coughing fits, particularly during exacerbations or when exposed to triggers.

  • Medication Side Effects: Certain medications may cause dry mouth or throat irritation, leading to headache when coughing.

Types of Cough Headaches

Headache when coughing are broadly categorized into two types:

  • Primary Cough Headaches:
    These occur spontaneously, typically lasting for a few seconds to a few minutes. They’re often benign but can be intense.

  • Secondary Cough Headaches:
    These are attributed to an underlying medical condition, such as those mentioned above.

Cough Headache Symptoms

Symptoms of cough headaches may include:

  • Sudden, sharp head pain
  • Pressure or tightness in the head
  • Pain exacerbated by coughing or straining
  • Nausea or vomiting in severe cases

Cough Headache Diagnosis

Diagnosing cough headaches involves a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional. This may include:

  • Medical history assessment: Gathering past and current health information, family history, and symptoms to understand the patient’s health context.
  • Physical examination: Hands-on assessment of vital signs, general appearance, and specific areas of concern to identify physical signs or abnormalities.
  • Imaging tests (e.g., MRI, CT scan): Detailed imaging to detect structural abnormalities or conditions like tumors or bleeding, useful for ruling out serious issues.
  • Neurological assessments: Evaluating nervous system function, including sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities, to identify any neurological involvement in symptoms.

Cough Headache Treatment

Treatment for cough headaches focuses on addressing the underlying cause and managing symptoms. Options may include:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications to alleviate headache symptoms.

  • Treating Underlying Conditions: Addressing sinus infections, allergies, or respiratory issues can help reduce coughing and associated headaches.

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Avoiding triggers, staying hydrated, and practicing good respiratory hygiene can minimize coughing episodes.

  • Physical Therapy: Techniques such as breathing exercises or postural adjustments may help alleviate symptoms.

When to See a Doctor?

If you experience pressure in head when coughing, it’s essential to seek medical attention. Additionally, consult a doctor if you experience new or worsening symptoms, such as persistent headaches, neurological changes, or difficulty breathing.


Understanding the link between coughing and headaches is vital for its effective management and relief. If you’re experiencing persistent headache when coughing, the expert team at Manhattan Medical Arts is here to help. 

Don’t let discomfort hold you back from living your best life—schedule an appointment today and take the first step towards health and wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of headache is worrisome?

Headaches that are severe, sudden, accompanied by neurological symptoms like confusion or slurred speech, or persist despite treatment should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

How to relieve head pressure from coughing?

To relieve head pressure from coughing, try using over-the-counter pain relievers, applying a warm compress to the forehead or temples, staying hydrated, and practicing deep breathing exercises to relax the muscles.

How do I know if my headache is serious?

Signs of a serious headache include sudden onset, severe intensity, changes in vision or speech, weakness or numbness, and headache triggered by exertion or coughing. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.

Should I be worried if my head hurts when I cough?

While occasional headaches from coughing are common and usually benign, persistent or severe headaches when coughing could indicate an underlying issue. It's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.

– Disclaimer –

This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 02/19/2024

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

Read More
Table of Content