Tons of things can cause headaches.
Headaches are one of the most common ailments in the world. According to the World Health Organization, around half of all people worldwide have reported suffering from a headache at least once in the past year. And although a headache may be just a headache, it could also be a sign that something else is going on.
Most headaches are nothing to worry about. They can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, allowing us to go about our day. But not all headaches are created equal, and getting to the source of the pain can help prevent them in the future.
You shouldn’t have to live in pain. The next time your head hurts, consider these potential causes, and talk with your doctor about any concerns you have.
You need to drink water – You could just be dehydrated.
Even mild dehydration can lead to headaches or migraines for some, according to Healthline. Headaches associated with dehydration — whether it’s from not drinking enough water, exercising too much, or crying— are often paired with muscle cramps, darker urine than what is normal for you, and thirst. They usually only last the length of the dehydration, so replenishing your body with water and electrolytes should put you on the road to recovery.
You’re having allergy or sinus problems – They can be directly-related.
When you think of allergies, you probably think of a runny nose or watery eyes, but they can also cause serious headaches that can be confused with migraines, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Headaches associated with hay fever or sinusitis are caused by blockages in the nasal passages or from a bacterial infection. Since they need to be treated with very specific medications, getting the right diagnosis is key.
You’re under too much stress – Take a breath.
A study presented at the 2014 American Academy of Neurology claimed that the more stress you’re under, the more headaches you’re likely to get, according to Self. That stress can manifest itself in the form of chronic or episodic tension headaches, or it can trigger migraines for those who suffer from them. Episodic tension headaches can be the result of a particular stressful event, like losing a job or the death of a family member, while chronic tension headaches result from long-term, un-managed stress.
There’s a problem with your spine – Certain movements can make it act up.
If something’s out of whack with your spine, especially in the cervical section of your neck, it can lead to headaches, according to The American Migraine foundation. If you’re experiencing one of these cervicogenic headaches, you may notice that certain head movements increase the pain or become nearly impossible. The symptoms can be similar to those of a migraine, since the pain is isolated to one part of the head — often the back of the head or behind the eyes — and can cause nausea and light sensitivity.
You should get some rest – You sleep sets the tone.
Sleep deprivation can cause headaches and cognitive issues, but so can a subtle change in sleeping habits, according to Everyday Health. Any change in your sleep pattern can really throw your body off. If it’s used to getting eight hours of sleep, but something causes you to only get four, there’s a chance a mid-morning crash is heading your way.
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Your diet needs to change – ou may need to switch up the way you eat.
Hypoglycemia occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough glucose, which can happen when you don’t consume enough food or when a lot of sugary food causes your body to produce too much insulin, according to Migraine Trust. Headaches are one of the signs that your blood sugar has dipped too low. Your body needs food to fuel itself during the day. Eating small meals throughout the day is the easiest way to prevent these kinds of headaches.
You need to visit the eye doctor – It could be your glasses.
Many of us spend all day staring at a computer screen, and it can have a negative effect on our eyes, according to CNN. If you’ve started getting headaches at the end of the day, keep an eye out — no pun intended — for some other signs. For instance, if they only happen on work days, or you notice that you’ve started to strain or squint your eyes when looking at your screen, it might be time to set an eye appointment.
One of your medications is causing problems – It’s worth looking into.
You may not always read that impossibly-long list of side effects that comes with your medication, but you definitely should. If your headaches coincided with a new medication or dosage, that could be the culprit, according to Everyday Health. Birth control pills, medication for blood pressure, stimulants, and other medicines can all cause or worsen headaches.
You need to check your blood pressure – If your headache feels different, it’s worth checking out.
Although research suggests that high blood pressure isn’t a direct cause of headaches, persistently high blood pressure is a cause of hypertension, which does cause headaches, according to Healthline. These headaches feel different than most, and to make matters worse, your usual remedies probably won’t work. Treating high blood pressure could be the best way to treat your headaches.
You drank a little too much – It could be as simple as a hangover
Of course, your headache could just be a symptom of good old fashioned hangover. Wine is notorious for causing headaches, but they can really be caused by any alcohol. The amount that can lead to a hangover will vary per person, as will the severity of the headache. Since dehydration is a primary cause of the hangover headache, it’s critical to drink liquids, but with an especially rough hangover, it can be hard to keep any down.
There’s something more serious going on – It could be something else entirely.
Depending on your age, the condition of your immune system, the way the headaches began, and how long they’ve been present, they could be signaling something more serious, according to Everyday Health. A headache could be a symptom of a stroke or an infection, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.