A Doctor Tells Us What Causes A Headache Exactly

    You must have experienced a headache at one point or another in your life. Headaches are one of the most common discomforts we deal with. Even though prominent, many people  still don’t know what causes a headache.

    Do you experience that uncomfortable throbbing and distracting pain that emanates from the frontal area of your skull? Headaches vary in type and different things can cause it; it can also be prevented.

    Headaches are classified into types depending on causes. While some headaches are caused by muscle tightening and muscle tension, others might be caused by pain created by a supersensitive nerve ending. You must figure out what causes the headache first, ,as this can be helpful in understanding how to prevent a headache in the future.

    Types And Causes Of Headaches

    Headache can be primary or secondary. A primary headache is when the pain you feel in your head is the only thing you are suffering from. Primary headaches, unlike secondary headaches, are not triggered by any other factors such as allergies or other underlying conditions. Primary headaches can be either episodic or chronic.

    Episodic headaches: This headache occurs like an episode. It doesn’t last for long (a few hours) and can occur once in a while

    Chronic headaches: This kind of headache comes with consistency. It occurs regularly and can last for days

    The most common types of headaches are:

    • Sinus headaches: Sinus headaches are usually caused by pressure by the sinuses (cavities in the skull) or an infection of the sinuses
    • Migraine headaches: Migraine headaches occurs when there is a creation of pain in sensitive nerve endings situated in the brain
    • Tension headaches: Just like the name states, tension headaches are caused by tightening of the head and neck muscles. It is mostly triggered by stress

    Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, is a condition whereby the sinus (cavities around the nasal passages) gets inflamed. A virus usually causes it. In some other cases, it might be caused by bacteria or fungus. One of the common symptoms of sinusitis is a sinus headache.

    In the case of a migraine headache, it can be caused by a combination of many factors. The factors are mostly dependent on the individual. Some of these factors below that can contribute to a migraine headache:

    • exposure to bright light such as flashing light
    • exposure to smoke
    • alcohol consumption
    • certain prescription drugs such as those prescribed for menopausal symptoms, birth control, or heart diseases
    • sudden cessation of caffeine consumption
    • certain smells
    • certain foods and food additives such as aged cheese, sour cream, chocolates, peanut butter and monosodium glutamate as found in cured meats

    In the case of muscle tension, you might be wondering what makes those muscles in the head and neck tighten. What causes a headache in this case? Some of the common triggers of a tension headache include:

    • lack of sleep
    • stress
    • hunger
    • fatigue
    • changes in weather
    • abrupt cessation of caffeine intake
    • sudden cessation of the intake of certain medications that act as pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen

    Some of these common triggers, such as fatigue, hunger, stress and lack of adequate sleep, can also cause other types of headaches.

    Other Types Of Headaches

    Asides from the three common types of headaches explained above; there are other types of headaches one can experience, these include:

    How To Prevent Headaches

    The easiest way to prevent a headache is to avoid the causes of headaches—this is why you must understand what causes a headache and take note of what triggers yours.  Start by noting down the characteristics of your headache as well as the factors that trigger it which could include:

    • dietary factors
    • medications
    • consumption of alcohol
    • sleep patterns
    • environmental conditions
    • stress levels
    • hormonal factors such as menstrual cycles
    • physical activities

    Other Severe Causes Of Headache

    Sometimes, a headache can come as a result of an underlying physical or health condition. For instance, a case of high blood pressure can sometimes present with headache. Other health complications that might come with a symptom of headache include infection, bleeding and tumors. This is more reason why you must not always ignore your headaches especially if they are persistent.


    Headache can be caused by different factors and might also depend on individuals. Sometimes a pain management plan can be a helpful tool for handling headaches. Classifying headaches as a minor issue can be dangerous as it could be a symptom of a severe underlying issue. See your doctor if you experience recurring or constant headaches, especially if the headache is accompanied by fever, fainting, stiff neck, confusion, slurred speech, convulsion, or pain in any part of the body.


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