CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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Primary cough headaches
The cause of primary cough headaches isn't known. It's possible that increased pressure in the head (intracranial pressure) caused by coughing and other types of straining may play a role in these headaches.
Secondary cough headaches
Secondary cough headaches may be caused by:
- A defect in the shape of the skull.
- A defect in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. This can occur when a portion of the brain is forced through the opening at the base of the skull (foramen magnum), where only the spinal cord is supposed to be. Some of these types of defects are called Chiari malformations.
- A weakness in one of the blood vessels in the brain (cerebral aneurysm).
- A brain tumor.
- 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.