What causes 'Primary Cough Headache'?

by Michael DB
(Birmingham England)

I'm an 80 year man. Living in Birmingham England. As a diabetic I have yearly 'Eye screening' checks, where 'Eye drops' are put in the eye to widen the pupil for examination.

I've been having these for years with no subsequent problem - until this year!
On August 5th 2016 I went to the hospital eye clinic to have the eye check done.
He put the drops in (Three in each eye, then two more in my right eye)
I had the examination and went home. It was a sunny day and I'd forgotten my sunglasses,
so walked along screening my eyes with my fingers.

When I got home I looked at my eyes in a mirror and had never seen the pupils so wide. This scared me a little, but I thought I'd be o.k. by next day. I went to bed early as my head felt strange and I wanted to sleep it off.

The next morning as I awoke and swung my legs out of bed - I coughed - to clear my throat and immediately had a surge of pressure with sharp pain inside my head!
I was totally shocked by this. Golding my head in astonishment.

That was the start of my horrendous experience!

It is just over two months later as I write this and EVERY DAY I still have this condition, where AFTER FOOD I get a 'Pain sensitivity' condition inside my head where, if I sneeze (Worst) or cough, or bend my trunk over - I get varying levels of pain inside my head.

I must stress: that previous to this incident, I hardly ever had headaches and certainly NO sensitivity to the normal varied diet I ate to that point.

I now have a VERY restricted diet - as I soon discovered, that most of the 'Normal' food I usually eat. Cheese (Terrible pain sensitivity inside head) Meat; Turkey, or chicken (Which was my normal choice) can lead to high levels of 'Pain sensitivity' (By that I mean that eating certain things like that causes the worst reaction and pain if I sneeze, cough, or bend etc)

I now stick to a regular (Restricted) diet of Muesli tea banana on toast. Soups (Not tinned as gave me pain) Evening meal of boiled veg. Occasionally I eat pork pie meat.
Fish is a lot easier on me. Had salmon with salad last evening. Some pain but not too bad.

For almost two months I did NOT take any pain killers. But a friend suggested I should try Paracetamol. I did and luckily, it helps!!. It doesn't solve the problem, but definitely helps lessen the head pain. I don't know how long I can rely on it though.

When this first happened to me, it took 3 weeks before I was able to make a complaint, to the 'Eye clinic'. The doctor there was very responsive. Spending 1-1/2 hours with me and involving a colleague Looking back, neither of them were aware that this condition IS fairly well known. It's called 'Primary cough headache' if of unknown benign origin. and 'Secondary cough headache' if possibly related to other known causes.

I found all this out while searching the internet.

Two things stand out in my case: Although the 'cause' of PCH is not known, in my case, it was triggered by the 'Eye screening' drops.
Secondly, in my case at least, I know for certain, that the build-up of pain in my head, relates to ingesting FOOD. But not just certain migraine triggering foods, but most food I eat.

As an alternative health expert, I would be surprised if you had any answer to this, but ANY help I can get would be welcome. So I thought I'd try! It may help someone.

Sue-Anne's Reply:

Hi Michael,

I am sorry, you are right I am not aware of this condition that is causing you so much suffering.

If it is triggered by foods that you are now intolerant to and not digesting properly, my suggestion would be to take a high quality plant based digestive enzyme with meals and in between meals as well to help.

The one I would recommend would be Garden Essence by Nature's Sunshine. I hope this helps, keep me posted,

kind regards,

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