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General Medical Questions
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Question : I feel a pressure in my temples during coughing fits? Sometimes it is painful. Should I be worried?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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August 29, 2012
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A:

The most likely reasons for pain or pressure in your temples when you cough include:

  • Increased pressure in your sinuses, due to allergies or an infection.
  • Clenching of your jaw when you cough. This could cause pain in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that sit right in front of your ears.
  • Pain in your throat or ears that is transmitted to your temples. (Another example of transmitted pain is the “ice cream” headache that is triggered when something very cold enters the throat.)

Most of these conditions are harmless or just annoying.

But there are some conditions that require immediate attention. For example, if you have a persistent headache or pain in your temples that gets worse with coughing, you need to see your doctor.

People age 50 and older can develop a condition called temporal arteritis. The arteries in and around the head become inflamed. Without treatment, you can lose vision.

Another concern would be increased intracranial pressure. In this condition, the fluid that circulates around the brain of the fluid surrounding the brain does not flow properly. Pressure builds up inside the skull. Usually a person would have a constant headache that is worse with coughing.

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