Why Can Coughing Trigger a Migraine?

Health Professional


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.


Dear 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

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