Headaches are extremely common and can vary greatly from person to person, but what causes headaches? Individuals with predispositions for headaches or migraines may notice that certain triggers can bring about the onset of a headache. Like headaches, the causes of headaches can vary greatly depending on the individual. However, by becoming aware and recognizing the common headache triggers, suffers can take action to avoid the triggers and thus decrease the likelihood of a headache. Below are 10 of the most common headache triggers.
What Causes Headaches Factor #1: Changes in Weather or Altitude
Those who experience what are known as ‘barometric pressures headaches’ are said to be sensitive to weather and/or altitude. Air pressure goes down when there is an approaching storm, and back up again after the storm has passed. It is not uncommon for individuals to complain of sinus-like headaches, or even migraines during times of low barometric pressure. Studies have shown that an abrupt rise in temperature or an abrupt change in barometric pressure can trigger a migraine.
What Causes Headaches Factor #2: Sensory Stimuli
Individuals who suffer from headaches often complain of being sensitive to light. Bright lights, especially sunlight, as well as fluorescent lights or flashing lights commonly bring about the onset of headaches and migraines. On top of that, loud noises and strong scents, such as solvents, perfumes, and paints, can trigger headaches for many people.
What Causes Headaches Factor #3: Hats and Hair Accessories
Restricting accessories on or around one’s head (such as hats, ponytail bands, or headbands) are often the culprit of some splitting headaches. It is possible that the restrictive head gear is causing strain in the connective tissues of the scalp thus bringing about headaches and migraines.
What Causes Headaches Factor #4: Dehydration
When the human body is dehydrated, it will make an effort to manage the dwindling fluid levels. Blood vessels will narrow and reduce the blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can often result in a major headache. A lack of water and electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, can cause a serious headache or migraine.
What Causes Headaches Factor #5: Posture
Poor posture can lead to headaches, particularly tension headaches, since it causes muscle strain in the back, head, and neck, and can also change one’s breathing patterns. If correct posture is not practiced, tension headaches can become chronic
What Causes Headaches Factor #6: Smoking
When an individual smokes, it causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow making it difficult for blood and oxygen to flow into the brain. Even breathing in secondhand smoke can cause this same reaction. The lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain can result in a painful headache.
What Causes Headaches Factor #7: Hormonal Changes
It seems that higher levels of estrogen may improve headaches while lower levels of estrogen can make them worse. For women, the fluctuating hormone levels experienced throughout the menstrual cycle may influence headache and migraine pain.
What Causes Headaches Factor #8: Food
Chocolate, aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), alcohol, and processed foods are all included in a long list of foods that commonly trigger headaches. Furthermore, it is common to experience a headache after skipping a meal.
What Causes Headaches Factor #9: Stress
Stress is one of the most common headache triggers, particularly tension headaches. When a person is stressed, chemicals that provoke vascular changes are released into the bloodstream, resulting in headache pain.
What Causes Headaches Factor #10: Sleep
Sleeping too much or sleeping too little is one of the most common causes of headaches. It is often recommended that headache sufferers stick to a regular sleep schedule to avoid the pain of migraines and/or headaches.
Peter Wendt is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. For much of his life, he suffered from severe headaches. In an attempt to understand his condition and to receive help, Wendt visited an expert pain care physician in Austin . Since visiting his physician, Wendt has experienced far fewer headaches and his quality of life has increased significantly.