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Possible headache cause #3: COPD

Headache Causes: Page 3

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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Why: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the combination of emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis, usually caused by lung damage due to smoking. Headache is one of the less notorious yet fairly common symptoms of COPD, compared with shortness of breath and worsening cough. More than 30 percent of COPD patients (mean age of 63) were found to suffer headaches in a 2003 study in Turkey.

What to notice: COPD headaches are worst when you wake up in the morning. That's because you're not breathing deeply enough at night, causing carbon dioxide to build. This dilates blood vessels in the brain, causing headaches. Someone who's increasingly awakening with such headaches and who is a smoker or who may have been exposed to lung irritants should be checked for lung disease.