Nearly every person may get headache at some point in his or her life. In fact, it is also one of the most common medical complaints and now more than 57 million Americans (two in six) suffer from chronic headaches each year.
Most of the headaches are classified by cause: first one is primary headaches and second is secondary headaches.
Primary headaches do not indicate any underlying disease, but may occur due to some pain-sensitive structures in head, for instance issues with the nerves, chemical over-activity or even genes that make one more susceptible to develop some forms of headaches. One such example of such headache is migraine.
The secondary headache may be due to some underlying disease that may stimulate various pain sensitive nerves of the head, for instance, brain tumor, acute sinus infection, stroke or more.
Headaches are triggered by many factors, but if you experience frequent or chronic headaches, it’s best to see your doctor as it may sometimes be a symptom of some underlying medical condition.
Causes of Headaches:
Dehydration and skipped meals
If you’ve skipped your meal, or haven’t drunk enough water, then that could be the reason why your head is paining so much. Try drinking at least 6-7 glasses of water a day, and eat balanced meals at regular intervals. These meals should combine complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fat throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits, which contain lot of water, fiber and essential vitamins required by your body to stay healthy (and successfully fight off headaches!).
Alcohol and hangover headache
Most of us already know about old hangover, but its actual cause is still unknown. Mostly, hangover follows heavy night of boozing, but it’s still not clear whether pain in the head comes from effect alcohol has on blood vessels or from inflammation. Sometimes dehydration can also be a cause of hangover headaches, along with late night. There is a small ingredient called tyramine mostly found in the red wine and many other alcoholic drinks, which could be the reason for post-booze headaches. Tyramine can also be found in various aged cheese, include cheddar, blue cheese, Swiss cheese, and Parmesan.
Eating and drinking cold foods such as cold drinks with ice, ice cream, or milk shakes is one of the biggest reasons for intense pain in head. But you may not understand in real terms, the “cold stimulus headache”, to put it in official term, then simply eat your ice cream in smaller bites/licks and more slowly. However, we do appreciate that it’s very hard thing to do when your ice cream tastes so good!
Chinese system believes that head represents digestive system. That means, most of the headaches are linked to digestive system. So you need to monitor your digestion once you eat certain foods, to ascertain if there are particular foods that may cause some digestive comfort, and also some headache.
We all are stressed in some way or the other. It can be work related stress, kids, school or even an annoying boss. Stress is directly associated with headaches. Mostly, migraines follow some tense situation, as during stress, body may generate cortisol to help you easily tide over the difficult period, and then when cortisol level decreases, you may be more susceptible to migraine attack. It’s really annoying once you’re done with your stressful routine, you may get lumbered with that banging headache, sometimes with auras!
If you feel you have stress related headache, you can try reducing your stress with some proven stress relieving techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, a relaxing massage, aromatherapy bath, or pilates medication. Essential oils and aromatherapy can help in relieving headaches .
Food allergies and certain foods
Many headaches and migraines are associated with food reactions and allergies that can be caused by artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, and additives. Eggs, cow’s milk, caffeine, cheese, and nitrates in processed meats, are the most common culprits. Its’ best to maintain a record of all that you eat as this can help you avoid the trigger. Then try to cut all suspicious foods from your diet and see if there is any improvement or you can consider an allergy test by your doctor.
If you’ve gone ultra-hard in your gym, then it could be the reason or your headache. It’s best to mix your workouts with some other activities to see if that can relieve some pain. Many people find that they just need to warm up longer. While pushing yourself hard can sometimes trigger headache, moderate workouts can be a good stress reliever. There are many muscles that contribute to headache, but the major ones are the muscles that connect your upper neck to the shoulder blade and the muscles that may connect your first two vertebrae to the skull. Walking is definitely a nice choice as it boosts circulation and also helps in relaxing shoulder and neck muscles.
It’s said there are more than 16,000 pollutants and substances in the environment, which can cause different types of headaches, including migraines, as people become more sensitive to various chemicals in the atmosphere. Pesticides, smoke, mold, perfumes, plastic, chlorine, deodorizers, carbon monoxide, radioactive fallout, or even some toxins from your wall-paint may have substances that can build up many toxins in your body, resulting in headaches. In order to reduce the toxin levels in your environment, it’s best to place few air filters in your office and home and spend more time close to the nature.
Besides excessive workouts in a gym, it seems just plain sitting down and relaxing can also cause a headache. However, actually it’s a case of slouching at your work desk that may cause some pressure in the neck and head muscles. So the best way to go is to sit-up, de-hunch shoulders, and use any chair that comes with some kind of lower-back support (or, you can use a comfy cushion!). You can also try some exercises to improve your posture.
Changes in sleep and lack of sleep
In a study carried out in 2016 in Texas, it was found that all those who get 7 hours or less sleep at night, are more prone to different types of headaches. So read a book, snuggle up, couple sheep and do whatever you can to get that most-needed zzz’s! You definitely deserve it!
Symptoms of some disease
This is also referred to as secondary headache and is different from primary headache which isn’t a symptom of any underlying disease. There are numerous medical conditions and diseases that may cause headache. If you’re experiencing persistent and unusual headache and you suspect something might be wrong, you should immediately visit a doctor.
Excessive medication use
Also referred to as rebound headache, it is an outcome of overuse of any pain medication.
As if there weren’t enough triggers for migraines/headaches, sometimes weather can be a culprit! While you may not be in a position to control weather, you can easily wear sunglasses on any sunny day and make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
In women, hormonal headaches can occur due to reduction in estrogen just before their period, and in some cases this can lead to migraines. Other hormonal fluctuations can sometimes trigger headaches during pre-menopause, pregnancy, and during menopause. While some may opt for OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, you can also use its natural alternatives.
Sometimes cigarettes can also cause headaches. Be careful, even if you don’t smoke, sometimes second hand smoke (that still contains lots of nicotine) can cause your blood vessels in brain to narrow, leading to headaches.
The easiest way to avoid headaches is to first identify triggers or trigger so that you can prevent it before it starts. Keep a close watch on all that you eat, stressful events, physical activity, and weather changes. Once you identify patterns, it’s easy for you to avoid these triggers.