Every time I become ill with a bad cough, it triggers a migraine attack for me. I always get my flu shot every year and stay current on my pneumonia vaccine as well. Right now, I am dealing with a virus, complete with stuffy sinuses, hacky cough, and low grade fever. As soon as I started coughing, which is normally pretty hard, a migraine struck with a horrid pounding headache, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, the whole kit and kaboodle. Which has had me stuck in bed for five days now. Can you please explain to me why coughing can trigger a migraine? Thank you, Roni.
Coughing may be a trigger due to the brief but significant increases in intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull). It is also common for migraine to be more problematic during times of illness, so your cough and your migraine may be tied together as part of the viral illness you are experiencing.
Thank you for your question,
Dave Watson and Teri Robert
About Ask the Clinician:
Questions submitted to our Ask the Clinician column are answered by Dr. David Watson and Teri Robert.
If you have a question, please go to our submission form. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers in our column. Due to the number of questions submitted, no questions will be answered privately, and questions will be accepted only when submitted via THIS FORM. Please do not submit questions via email, private message, or blog comments. Thank you.
Please note: We cannot diagnose, suggest specific treatment, or handle emergencies via the Internet. Please do not ask us to diagnose; see your physician for diagnosis. For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can’t answer, please see Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice.
We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications, and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.
See more helpful articles:
Do you have questions about Migraine? Reader questions are answered by UCNS certified Migraine and headache specialist Dr. David Watson, and award-winning patient educator and advocate Teri Robert. Questions may be submitted via our submission form. Accepted questions will be answered by publishing the answers in our Ask the Clinician column. For an overview of how we can help and questions we can and can’t answer, please see Seeking Migraine and Headache Diagnoses and Medical Advice.