Occasional headaches can be normal but they are a sign that your body is trying to tell you something important. You should think to yourself, did I eat or do something to trigger this headache? Could it have been prevented? Are my headaches always in the same area? How often do they come? Determining the causes and patterns of your headaches can help you reduce them in the future. Here are some common types of headaches and their causes. If a headache occurs two or more times a week for several months or longer, the condition is considered chronic. You should always consult a doctor if you have any questions or issues with your health.
Tension headache: This is the most common type of headache and the least severe. Tension headaches occur when neck and scalp muscles become tense, or contract. These muscle contractions can be a response to stress, depression, a head injury, anxiety, alcohol use, skipping meals, changes in sleep patterns, caffeine, or fatigue.
Sinus headache: Associated with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The pain usually intensifies with sudden head movement or straining and usually occurs with other sinus symptoms, such as nasal discharge, feeling of fullness in the ears, fever, and facial swelling.
They are generally caused by an inflammation in your sinuses. Sinuses are air-filled cavities around your nose, eyes, and cheeks. Bending down or leaning over generally makes the pain worse. Sinus headaches can be caused by sinus congestion and inflammation, called sinusitis. Sinusitis is caused by either a respiratory infection (cold or flu) which is the most common culprit or allergies like hay fever. Once this occurs nasal passages get blocked, mucus can’t drain, and air can’t circulate. When sinuses are blocked, they provide a place for bacteria, viruses, and fungus to live and grow.
Migraine headache: A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity. Most medical experts believe the attack begins in the brain, and involves nerve pathways and chemicals which affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues. Migraine pain is moderate to severe, and described as pounding, throbbing pain.
Triggers could be alcohol, stress, anxiety, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises, bright lights, exercising, or smoking. Migraine attacks may also be triggered by caffeine withdrawal, changes in hormone levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle, the use of birth control pills, changes in sleep patterns, or missed meals.
Migraine headaches can even be triggered by certain foods such as any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods, foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), baked goods, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, dairy products, foods containing tyramine (which includes red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers), and meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats).
Some people who get migraines have warning symptoms, called an aura, before the actual headache comes. An aura is a group of symptoms, including vision disturbances,depression, euphoria, or cravings of certain foods that precede a migraine.
Rebound headache: Also known as medication-overuse headaches. Rebound headaches are caused by frequent use of headache medication. Pain relievers offer relief for occasional headaches, but if you take them more than a couple of days a week, you could be triggering rebound headaches. Scientists suspect that regular use of headache medications alters the way certain pain pathways and receptors work in the brain and your body adapts to the medication. How frequently rebound headaches occur depends on the type and dose of overused drug and the frequency of headaches.
Daily doses of caffeine may fuel rebound headaches as well. Try not to wire your system with more caffeine than you require.
Rebound headaches tend to occur every day, often waking you in the early morning, improve with pain-relief medication but then return as your medication wears off. They persist throughout the day and worsen with physical or mental exertion.