Cough headache: frequency, characteristics and the relationship with the characteristics of cough

Eur J Pain. 2005 Aug;9(4):383-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2004.09.007.


Cough headache (CH) is a relatively rare, but an important complication of cough. The aim of this cross-sectional clinical study was to evaluate the frequency, characteristics and etiology of CH among the patients referred to our Outpatient Department with the complaint of cough, and to investigate the relationship between their cough and headache characteristics. We evaluated 96 females and 69 males, a total of 165 patients with cough. Among those, 57 patients (34.5%) had one or more cough complications and 32 patients (19.3%) were diagnosed as CH. Although it was known that most of the patients with CH had benign headache characteristics, the ratio of the symptomatic CH was not low (37.5% of the CH patients and 7% of patients with cough). Also, there was a significant correlation between the frequency of cough and the severity of headache. Logistic regression analysis showed that the incidence of CH was increased 0.4-fold, when frequency of cough increased. Age, sex, tobacco use ad the duration of cough were not found to be predictive factors for CH. Logistic regression analysis showed that the rate of cough complications increased 2.08-fold, when the duration of cough was longer than eight weeks (p=0.03) and 0.4-fold when the frequency of cough increased (p=0.02). In conclusion, CH is a relatively rare, but an important complication of cough and it commonly has an effective treatment available. Radiological work-up was crucial in ruling out other causes of headache and to confirm that the CH was truly benign.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Cough / epidemiology*
  • Cough / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging / standards
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Headache / diagnostic imaging
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prevalence
  • Radiography
  • Turkey / epidemiology