There are many causes of headaches, but fortunately, a large part of them can be controlled. Find out the common causes of headaches from here
The headache can be just a transient condition that occurs as a result of the foods you eat or the practices you do or because of a health condition some of which may be dangerous.
Types of headaches
The International Headache Association (IHS) classifies headaches as primary when it is not caused by another health condition, or a secondary condition when there are other subsidiary causes.
Primary headaches are self-standing diseases caused directly by hyperactivity or problems with sensitive structures of the head.
This includes blood vessels, muscles, nerves of the head and neck. It may also be caused by changes in chemical activity in the brain.
Common primary headaches are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches are symptoms that occur when another condition stimulates pain-sensitive head nerves. In other words, headache symptoms can be attributed to another cause.
There are different factors that can cause secondary headaches. These include:
- Alcohol-induced headache
- Brain tumor
- Blood clots
- Bleeding in or around the brain
- “Brain Freeze” or an ice cream headache
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Grinding the teeth at night
- Excessive use of pain relievers, known as rebound headache
- Panic attacks
You should read
Here are the common causes of headaches and how you can avoid them:
If you haven’t eaten for a while, you may feel hungry.
Then there may be low blood sugar, which may cause headaches.
So it is best to avoid this, by eating several small meals instead of three big main meals.
It is recommended to eat healthy snacks such as nuts or vegetables and other healthy foods that make you feel full.
2. Foods That Cause Headaches
Some of the foods we eat can affect some people, but this varies from person to person, but foods that are more likely to cause headaches include:
- Some fruits and nuts: Peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, and other nuts and seeds can cause headaches.
- Foods containing tyramine: such as aged cheese, tyramine is a substance found in some foods, and it is formed from the analysis of the protein contained in the food.
The amount of tyramine in cheese varies greatly depending on how it is prepared, and in the case of aging, there is a large amount of tyramine. Terramine is also found in red wine, alcohol drinks, and some processed meats.
- Food additives: preservatives found in some foods, such as hot dogs, fermented and pickled foods, can trigger headaches. Additives (nitrates and nitrites) dilate blood vessels and cause headaches in some people.
- Cold foods: Cold foods like ice cream can cause headaches in some people.
There is a type of headache, sometimes called “ice cream headache,” that occurs when you eat something very cold, especially if you do it quickly.
Doctors aren’t sure why this is, but an icy temperature can make the blood vessels in your mouth shrink, sending pain signals to your mind. Don’t worry, it usually disappears in a minute or so, prevention is simple: eat cold foods more slowly.
You can find out which foods are causing you headaches by tracking what you eat and noticing what leads to headaches and avoiding them.
3. Coffee and alcohol
Caffeine can be beneficial and harmful to those who suffer from headaches, and it is a common substance in the composition of many headache medications that are sold without a prescription. If your body is used to caffeine and forgot to drink a cup of coffee, especially in the morning, you may feel a headache.
When coffee is not within reach, green or black tea or even dark chocolate can substitute for it.
If you want to stop caffeine, do not do it once, do it gradually.
As for alcohol, blood flow to the brain increases when you drink it, and scientists attribute the headache to the lack of purity of alcohol or to the substances that alcohol metabolizes in the body, in addition to alcohol impeding your sleep and clearing your body of fluid. You may also feel tired and nauseous.
Avoid alcohol and drink water, broth, or sports drinks.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help, but avoid acetaminophen, which is very difficult for your liver when you drink.
4. Head injury
The headache can start immediately or months after the injury.
It may be at the site of the injury or throughout your skull and may get worse when you are stressed.
The cause is not always clear, but sometimes blood builds up in one place. This is called a hematoma.
In severe cases, you may feel weak, confused, nauseous, and forgetful.
See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms or if you have a headache after having a head injury.
5. Sinus swelling
A simple cold can inflame hollow areas and cause your sinuses to swell.
Swelling can cause pain that gets worse when you bend over.
Breathing may be difficult because the mucus, which can become thick and yellow or green, does not drain properly.
Over-the-counter medications can often help you manage them.
There is no need to contact your doctor unless the symptoms are bad, do not go away, or get worse.
6. Ear infection
Bacteria or viruses may infect the air-filled middle ear. It usually happens quickly.
Fluid buildup can cause head pain as well as drainage of fluid, blood, or pus.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor, who will want to check the infection and can help you manage pain and swelling.
Most cases improve without treatment in one to two weeks.
7. Some wrong behavior can cause headaches
Some of the actions that you do wrong can be the reason behind your headache. These behaviors include:
- Stress in your neck and shoulders: If you use your computer for hours or hold your phone with your ear on the shoulder, or feel stressed, any of these may cause a “headache tension.”
Hot showers, a heating pad, and over-the-counter medications can help you. Doing exercise regularly with meditation and other relaxation methods may prevent it before you start.
- Intense exercise: You may get hurt on both sides of your head during or after exercising too much. Running, swimming or weight lifting can cause headaches. Usually, you don’t need to worry, but it’s best to check with your doctor to make sure it’s not a serious thing.
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow: You might get a headache if your body posture is wrong all night. Lack of sleep may also lead to headaches. Look for a pillow that keeps your head and neck consistent with the rest of your body, as if you were standing. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you don’t feel comfortable.
- Excessive pain relievers: Even common over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen may cause headaches if you use them more than 15 days a month.
Caffeine medications may only do this in 10 days. People who have migraines are more likely to develop this problem. Your doctor can help you change your medication and give you other strategies to feel better.
8. Changes in estrogen levels for women can cause headache
Estrogen hormone and progesterone play major roles in regulating menstruation and pregnancy and may also affect chemicals associated with headaches in the brain (1)
Constant estrogen levels may improve headaches while experiencing estrogen levels that decrease or change can make headaches worse
Low estrogen before the menstrual cycle may contribute to a headache. Many women with migraines reported headaches before or during menstruation.
When should you ask for help?
In rare cases, headaches may be a sign of something more serious than mentioned above, there may be a condition that develops slowly, such as a brain tumor or it may be a medical emergency such as a stroke.
Seek health care if the pain is sudden and severe or notice any of these symptoms with him:
- Numbness or weakness on one side of your face or body
- Trouble seeing
- Dizziness and loss of balance.
Since the headache can be a symptom of a serious condition, it is important to seek medical advice if it becomes more severe, regular, or persistent.
For example, if your headache is more painful and intermittent than the previous headache, worsening, or fails to improve with the medicine or is accompanied by other symptoms such as confusion, fever, sensory changes, and stiffness in the neck, you should contact the doctor immediately.