Treatment differs, depending on whether you have primary or secondary cough headaches.
Primary cough headache
If you have a history of primary cough headaches, your doctor may recommend that you take daily medication to help prevent or reduce the pain.
These preventive medications may include:
- Indomethacin (Indocin), an anti-inflammatory drug
- Acetazolamide (Diamox Sequels), a diuretic that reduces the amount of spinal fluid, which can reduce the pressure inside the skull
- Propranolol (Inderal, Innopran), a medication that relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood pressure
Rarely, a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) may be recommended. With this procedure, the doctor removes some of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This may help reduce the pressure inside your skull that may be causing the headaches.
Secondary cough headache
If you have secondary cough headaches, surgery is often needed to fix the underlying problem. Preventive medications usually don't help people who have secondary cough headaches. However, responding to medication doesn't necessarily mean that you have a primary cough headache.
May. 05, 2012
- Cutrer FM. Primary cough headache. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 7, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed March 7, 2012.
- Pascual J. Other primary headaches. Neurologic Clinics. 2009;27:557.
- Pascual J. Primary cough headache. Current Pain and Headache Reports. 2005; 9:272.
- Chiari malformation fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chiari/detail_chiari.htm. Accessed March 10, 2012.
- Chen PK, et al. Cough headache: A study of 83 consecutive patients. Cephalalgia. 2009;29:1079.
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