We all know how it feels to have a headache, but what causes headaches in the first place? To answer that question it helps to first understand the different types of headaches.
According to the World Health Organization, 47% of adults have had at least one headache in the past year. Headaches range from mild to severe and can last anywhere from a couple hours to several days.
The most well-known types of headaches are tension, migraine, and cluster. These types of headaches are classified as primary headaches, which means the headache is the only disorder the sufferer is experiencing.
Other headaches are classified as secondary, which indicates that the headache is a symptom of another disease or disorder. Examples of secondary headaches include sinus headaches from allergies and brain freeze after eating ice cream. Secondary headaches can indicate a serious problem like a stroke or could be the result of something simple like a hangover.
If you experience a different or more severe headache than usual, you may want to consult a doctor to make sure the headache isn’t a symptom of a bigger problem.
Causes of Primary Headaches
Primary headaches like migraine, or tension-type headaches can have a variety of triggers, and triggers can affect various people differently. These are some of the most common triggers for primary headaches.
Alcohol: Even though overindulging in alcohol can cause a hangover headache, alcohol can also trigger primary headaches. Sulfites and tannins, particularly in red wine, trigger headaches in certain individuals, sometimes even bringing on a migraine.
Sleep: Disruptions to sleeping patterns, including both oversleeping and lack of sleep can cause headaches. The best way to avoid a sleep-induced headache is to maintain regular sleeping habits and try to avoid staying up too late or rising before you’re fully rested.
Food: Headaches can be brought on by certain types of food. The most common culprit is processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meats that contain nitrates. Skipping meals can also bring on a headache.
Stress: Emotional and mental stress can also trigger a headache. Whether it’s a tough project at work or a strained relationship at home, a headache could be trying to tell you to slow down and take some time to care for yourself.
Causes of Secondary Headaches
Since headaches can be a symptom of many diseases and disorders, it’s nearly impossible to outline every cause. However, there are some conditions where headache is a factor more often. These are some of the most common causes for secondary headaches.
Dehydration: When your body runs low on fluids, the tissues in your head can become inflamed, instigating a headache. Make sure to drink plenty of water if you’re fighting a pesky headache.
Allergies: Inflammation and congestion in the sinuses is a very common cause of allergy-related headaches. Address both the cause of the allergies and the symptom of the headache to find lasting relief from this type of headache.
Concussion: It’s easy to see how an injury to the head can bring on a nasty headache. Since a concussion is a bigger neurological problem than a typical headache, this kind of pain is considered secondary to the injury.
Medication: Overuse of medication can cause rebound headaches. This is especially common with pain medication.
Stroke: Headaches can be a symptom of a blood clot or stroke. Such headaches usually come on suddenly, are very severe, and have no other discernable trigger.
Dental Problems: Dental-related conditions like bruxism (grinding teeth) and TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) can bring on headaches. In some cases, Dentures Mandurah are needed as the removal of teeth is required to improve your oral health and also stop the headaches.
Increased awareness of headaches and what causes headaches is leading to more medical interventions to address them. While most people self-treat headaches, if you experience chronic headaches or a different type of headache that is more severe or disruptive than usual, it may be worth consulting a medical professional.