Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Includes Expert Content
Head pain/pressure from sneezing, coughing or laughing?
avatar
joseph1974 posted:
I started having what has been diagnosed as chronic tension headaches last October. About the same time I noticed that bending down, sneezing, coughing or laughing caused intense pain and pressure in my head and often triggered a headache. My MRI and MRA were both normal. I've tried Nortriptyline and Topamax for the chronic tension headaches but neither has affected the pain while bending, sneezing, coughing or laughing. Any ideas what could be causing this and how to treat it?
Reply
 
avatar
joseph1974 responded:
Update:
I wish I had better news but unfortunately the headaches and pain remain. I want to be clear regarding my original post that I have two types of pain. Chronic tension headache which includes pain from the back of my neck up around my head and ending behind my left eye. The severity can range from dull pain to intense stabbing. In addition, I have severe pain and pressure in my head when bending, sneezing, coughing or laughing. No medication or treatment of any kind, including acupuncture and chiropractic has eased this pain. I was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea which explains my morning headaches but not all. I did have a small 2 month window where the tension headaches all but vanished without explanation. They have returned I'm sad to say. I will do more research about the "tussive" headache that Dr. Collins has discussed and post further updates in hopes some of us can be helped.
 
avatar
danaltima replied to joseph1974's response:
I have the same headache symptoms and have strong reason to believe it is being caused by an impacted wisdom tooth. I am having it removed on June 30,2011. I will report back the results.
 
avatar
LenC1954 replied to Timothy Collins, MD's response:
I suffered with sever tussive headaches for nearly two years and had all of the MRI / CT scans, etc. and no one could figure out the cause. I was taking an ACE Inhibitor for some kidney problems and my Dr. decided to take me off the ACE and put me on an ARB (Diovan / HCT). After about one month, the headaches went away for many years.

Recently, I received a cortisone injection in the bursa for a shoulder injury, and within a week the extreme tussive headaches returned and have been on-going for 4 weeks now. Could the cortisone injection have a reaction with the ARB, or increase my spinal cord pressure such that it could cause the severe tussive headaches?

For those who suffer tussive headaches and have been taking maintenance drugs, you may want to see if your Dr. might prescribe a different drug type as my previous experience with tussive headaches almost assuredly was caused by the ACE inhibitor I was taking for years.
 
avatar
danaltima replied to danaltima's response:
I am sorry to say that the tooth removal did not alleviate the headaches, at least not yet. The area is still healing, but the pain is still as strong as it was prior to the extraction.

On another note, I noticed the pain goes away when lying down. I can sneeze, cough and laugh while lying down and I have no pain. The pain never occurs during the night and only begins when I have been up for 20-30 minutes in morning. Does that indicate a structural issue? Is it related to the low spinal fluid theory?
 
avatar
gcc33 replied to danaltima's response:
I have been having these symptoms for about 3 months now and after doing MRI of neck and head, they are saying they think it is related to arthritis in my upper spine. They mentioned discs 5, 6 and 7. We are going to do some physical theropy and see if that helps. I will keep you all posted as to my progress.
 
avatar
gcc33 replied to gcc33's response:
Sorry to say after many physical theropy visits I still have the head aches when I cough, sneeze etc. I am going to an ENT this next week, but have been reading an article from the Mayo clinic about idiopathic intercranial hypertension. It lists many symptoms that I have. I am going to take this article to my dr and see about that.
 
avatar
gray15650 replied to lyds12's response:
Try an Upper Cervical Chiropractor. There are great websites that will explain how this can help your migraines.
 
avatar
KMACSMOM responded:
I am having all of the same symptoms. I had sinus surgery, physical therapy, chiropractor, beta blockers, anti inflammatories, immitrex, sinus sprays, relpax, maxalt, allergy medications..... I have had CT scans, MRIs, etc....
So far no fix, I am so desperate to have my life back. I am going to talk with my Dr about Chiari malformation - will post any updates.
 
avatar
Headache101 replied to lyds12's response:
lyds12

You described my symtoms perfectly. My symtoms started the first part of September and have been ongoing. I have a few questions that I would like to ask you. Would you be willing to email me directly? My most important question is, " Have you gotten any help?
 
avatar
carpetcrawler5 replied to KMACSMOM's response:
Have you ever tried using a TENS?
 
avatar
hurtadodee1 replied to Timothy Collins, MD's response:
how bad is this to have if your pregnant. My concern is when you are ready to deliver with all the pushing...im worried.
 
avatar
danaltima replied to hurtadodee1's response:
My neurologist suspects a small crack in my dura surrounding my brain causing spinal fluid to leak.This, he says, is causing the pain when I cough, sneeze, etc. He is suggesting a blood patch to seal the crack. Crack did not show up on MRI but he still believes a small one exists. Has anyone else had this diagnosis? What does anyone know about these blood patches?
 
avatar
bbur9 replied to gcc33's response:
My headaches started in 2005 when I sneezed and almost blacked out for about 15 seconds. They became constant within a couple of months and got exceedingly worse whenever I coughed, sneezed, laughed or bent over. I saw three different neurologists before I was finally diagnosed with idiopathic intraranial hypertension (sometimes called pseudotumor cerebri, or false brain tumor). I had all the symptoms of a brain tumor, saw every specialist there was, had multiple MRI's, CT scans, etc., to no avail. I was always told it could not be intracranial hypertension because I had no eye involvement. However, the third neurologist was very thorough and did a spinal tap, confirming that I did indeed have it. It occasionally does not involve the eyes, as was my case. I take 500 mg. of Acetazolamide ER (Diamox) and 40 mg. of Furosemide (Lasix) daily. It is a combination that we worked with for over 6 months before getting right. I have been taking this medication since the summer of 2007 and, to this day, the headaches are a thing of the past, unless I do not get the medication refilled right away and go more than two days without it. In that case, the headaches return until I resume taking the medication. Needless to say, that does not happen at all anymore! I've learned my lesson well. Best of luck to you in solving your headaches!
 
avatar
wirth10 replied to Timothy Collins, MD's response:
I was recently diagnosed with having a spontaneous CSF leak. I had a blood patch while in my stay at the hospital but it didn't take. I just went back on 2/13/12 for another blood patch in which they did a high volume blood patch in my thoracic region. My neck stiffness and extremely painful headaches seem to have subsided but I still have a pressure thing going on with like plugged ears sensation? And at end of day tends to get a little more. Hurts to bend over, sneeze, cough, even when laying down?? What is this. It is new...
 
avatar
zagman replied to wirth10's response:
Thanks to all of you for your posts. It's good to know I'm not alone. I've got all the symptoms mentioned right down to the plugged ears sensation. At times it feels like there's a working factory in my head and there's pounding like a machine is operating. Mornings are my best time, but it get's worse as the day goes on. I've learned to pick up things with my head looking upward to avoid the pain. I've had all the tests, but the doctors are puzzled. I am printing out your posts and taking it to my doctor. You've given me some hope.


Helpful Tips

Botox for Headaches FDA approvedExpert
Many of you have heard that Botox (botulinum toxin) has been approved by the FDA for chronic daily headaches or migraines. Chronic daily ... More
Was this Helpful?
22 of 34 found this helpful

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Pain Disorders Center