What Causes A Headache?

What Causes A Headache
What Causes A Headache

What Causes A Headache? Given the wide range of different headaches (including cluster, migraine, ocular, sinus and tension headaches) and headache sufferers, it should be no surprise to find that there is also a wide range of different causes. There are hundreds of possible causes for headaches, and perhaps we should not simply ask what causes a headache, but what causes mild headaches, what causes chronic headaches, what causes severe headaches and what causes really bad headaches? Some headaches result from underlying health problems, such as thankfully rare cases of brain tumors or cerebral aneurysms. However, most common headaches have equally common causes.

In a lot of cases simple eyestrain, perhaps caused by reading or working at your computer for too long, can result in a headache. In other cases, the simple inflammation of the sinuses as the result of a head cold or allergy might be the cause. Overuse of some prescription medicines can also produce a headache, and this is often referred to as a medication overuse headache, or MOH.

Although the precise cause is not known it is also believed that constriction of the blood vessels can also often lead to a headache. The blood vessels within your head are lined with pain-sensitive nerves, and these are activated whenever the blood vessels constrict, sending signals to the brain. This is thought to be a common cause of both tension-type and cluster headaches. It is also believed that the dilation of blood vessels within the head is also an important factor in triggering migraine headaches, although this is also thought to be just one component of the equation that leads to migraines.

Tension headaches can also arise from other causes such as tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulder and even from tension in the muscles of the jaw. People who have experienced TMJ disorder (a condition arising out of tension in the temporomandibular joint causing the jaw to tighten against the skull) will be all too familiar with the headaches which can result from tension in the muscles of the jaw.

In more serious cases, headaches (which are normally referred to as secondary headaches) can be produced by an underlying disease. Here the list of diseases which can lead to headaches is long and will include everything from irritable bowel syndrome to scarlet fever.

Environmental factors also play an important part, and one classic example is the severe headaches that can be caused by carbon monoxide from an automobile exhaust. Other environmental factors will include such things as simple allergies and, although less common these days, even lead poisoning. Food poisoning, however, remains a fairly common cause of environmental headaches. Indeed, even when food poisoning itself is not the cause, many people are sensitive to certain food compounds, and things like chocolate, cheese, red wine, and caffeine are frequently the cause of headaches.

The good news is that, while many people do suffer from severe and chronic headaches, the vast majority of headaches (85% to 90%) are common tension headaches which are both easy to cure and often easy to prevent in the future.

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