Primary cough headaches
- Begin suddenly with and just after coughing or other types of straining
- Typically last a few seconds to a few minutes — some can last up to two hours
- Cause sharp, stabbing or splitting pain
- Usually affect both sides of your head and may be worse in the back of your head
- May be followed by a dull, aching pain for hours
Secondary cough headaches
Secondary cough headaches often have symptoms similar to those of primary cough headaches, though you may experience:
- Longer lasting headaches
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor if you experience sudden headaches after coughing — especially if the headaches are frequent or severe or you have any other troubling signs or symptoms, such as imbalance or blurred or double vision.
Feb. 19, 2015
- Cutrer FM, et al. Cough, exercise, and sex headaches. Neurology Clinics. 2014;32:433.
- Ropper AH, et al. Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=690. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.
- Waldman SD. Atlas of Uncommon Pain Syndromes. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 21, 2015.
- Cutrer FM. Primary cough headache. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 21, 2015.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.