Head pain, or headaches, are highly common and can be caused by numerous conditions. It can strike at any time, and can cause you to feel overwhelmed, incapacitated, and even sick right down to your stomach. When a headache starts, you may ask yourself why and wonder whether it is serious or not. This article will detail the possible and most common causes.
Why Does My Head Hurt? 4 Common Possibilities
1. Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headache experienced by individuals. The exact cause of this type of headache is unknown, although it is believed to be associated with things such as poor posture, dehydration, missing meals, and stress. These headaches affect the whole head, but generally don’t cause enough pain to cause impairment.
Over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol could be taken to treat tension headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as drinking more fluid to keep hydrated, reducing stress, and getting adequate sleep are also helpful in some cases.
Migraines are more severe than tension headaches and are often accompanied by increased sensations of pain, nausea, vomiting, and an increased sensitivity to sound and/or light. This type of headache can cause individuals to have difficulty in carrying out day-to-day activities. Migraines are often treated successfully by over-the-counter medications, although, in more severe cases, prescription medication may be required to help treat and prevent migraines.
3. Hangover Headache
Many people who consume alcohol in the evening may experience a headache the next day. For many people, this is unavoidable, except by the avoidance of the consumption of alcohol. The alcohol is likely caused by a build-up of the breakdown product of alcohol, or dehydration. A good method that many have found to help ease a hangover headache is coffee, the consumption of which is believed to block the cause of the headache when consumed.
4. Cluster Headaches
This type of headache is rare, and involves a cluster, or consistent occurrence of headaches for a time period of a month or two. These headaches can often be extremely painful, and cause intense pain in the head, behind the eye, as well as other symptoms, such as a blocked nose, runny nose, red eyes, and/or watery eyes. Treatment of this condition often requires special analysis from a health care professional.
Uncommon Causes of Your Headache
Why does my head hurt? You ask. Sometimes, the causes can be very strange that you may never realize the real problem. Below are some of the uncommon causes of headaches.
5. Medication and Painkiller Headaches
Headache is a common side effect of many medications. It is also possible to develop a headache after taking too many painkillers. This type of headache will usually subside once the medication has been discontinued.
6. Hormone Headaches
Headaches in women can often be caused by certain hormones, and there has been a noticeable correlation between headaches and menstrual periods in some women. This, when combined with pregnancy, or menopause, can cause headaches to develop. This can be avoided by reducing your levels of stress, maintaining a regular sleeping pattern, and making sure that you do not skip any meals.
7. Ice Cream Headache
Ice cream headaches, also known as brain freeze, can occur when you consume ice-cream, popsicles, or any other cold food or beverage too fast. This type of headache is more common in those who also experience migraines, and although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to be linked to the trigeminal nerve, brought about by a cooling of the mouth or throat.
8. Arthritis Headache
Why does my head hurt? It could be associated with arthritis. This type of headache, which is also known medically as a cervicogenic headache, is a result of nerves in the neck causing pain behind the eye, and an ache in the head. Arthritis headaches are thought to be caused by arthritis within the neck, although it has also been associated with migraines. In fact, it has been said that many patients who believe to be suffering from a cervicogenic headache may in fact be experiencing a migraine.
9. Caffeine-Withdrawal Headache
Some studies have concluded to prove that withdrawal from caffeine can cause a headache to develop. Meaning, if you miss your morning coffee and begin to feel a pain in your head, it may not be coincidental. Although the exact reason as to why this happens is unknown, some theories suggest it is due to the fact that caffeine, when consumed, blocks adenosine receptors, which play a part in the signalling pathway.
10. Other Causes
Other uncommon causes include:
- Injury/trauma to the head
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Sleep apnoea – A condition affecting the throat walls, causing them to relax and narrow, leading to an interruption to normal breathing.
- Temporomandibular disorders – This disorder affects the muscles and joints responsible for chewing.
- Sinusitis – This is where the sinuses become inflamed.
What to Do? Should I Worry?
In most instances, headaches will either disappear on their own or be able to be treated effectively with over-the-counter medication and lifestyle changes. Describe your condition to the pharmacist and he/she will direct pain killing medications dealing with specific symptoms.
If nothing helps, talk to a doctor who can help to address your question of “Why does my head hurt?” Also visit your doctor if you are experiencing headaches frequently. In rare cases, a headache can be an implication of a more serious health condition, including a brain tumour, meningitis, and a stroke.
Signs indicating that the headache may be serious:
- The headache appeared suddenly and it is extremely severe and painful.
- The headache fails to lessen in severity over time, or gets worse.
- The headache appears after sneezing, coughing, or other types of physical activities and exertion.
- If the headache appears after a serious head injury or trauma.
- If you have additional symptoms, including: weakness, confusion, slurred speech, drowsiness, memory loss, fever, rash, stiff neck, pain whilst chewing, problems with vision, redness in on eye, and/or a sore scalp.
If any of the above situations apply to you, or if you fear that your headache may be an indication of something more serious, then you should pay a visit to your healthcare professional.