Person with headache

Causes of Headache

There are many causes of Headache, most are Benign (Harmless) while some are more serious and require urgent Investigation and Treatment. The common thing about all Headaches is that they are uncomfortable.

Headache is the most common discomfort that affect  everyone in the world more than once in a year. Yes, it’s more common in adults than in children but they can have Headache as too.

Any Headache indicates that there’s something wrong in the body. It can be in the head itself or anywhere in the body. The abnormality may be something real (like an illness) or something Psychological, like stress.

Based on the causes, Headaches are divided into Primary Headaches and Secondary headaches.

Primary headaches are the most common ones. They originate in the head, the blood tests and scans are negative which is why they are called Primary Headaches. This article will focus more on them because they are overlooked by most Physicians.

Secondary headaches are caused by Abnormality elsewhere in the body, not necessarily the head. In this case, Blood Tests and scans can show a Disease as the cause of the Headache. Secondary Headache disappears when the Cause of it is treated. Causes Range from Minor illnesses like Common Cold/flu to more serious Diseases like Stroke, Meningitis, Diabetes Mellitus, Brain Tumors, and High Blood Pressure.


There are Three types of Primary Headaches, namely Tension Headache, Migraine, and Cluster Headache.

1.Tension Headache

This is the most common type of Headache. Here the pain is felt around the sides of the head like a Tight band applying pressure. The pain may be Frontal ( felt on the Forehead) and may radiate to the neck Muscles.

Tension headache location

Headache lasts for about an Hour or more and usually comes at the same time of the day every day. It responds well to Pain killers but will come back the next day until the Problem causing it is sorted.

It is caused by Stress and thinking too much. Usually a person will be having some stressing issues like exams approaching, Divorce and  Financial difficulties.

The cause might be a minor or a Major one; like Peer pressure, Fear of public speaking, having a difficult/ abusive boss at work and even hearing bad news or misbehaving children at home.

    The cause may also be Physiological such as lack of sleep, Hunger, dehydration, excessive alcohol consumption the night before, and lack of rest.

The best Treatment for Tension Headache is removing the cause, then Pain Killers may follow. It is important to First find the cause of your Headache before jumping to Pain Killers. Make sure you Rest, Drink enough water and eat Healthy.

The best way to Deal with Stress is to do one of the Three things; One, walk away from the Situation/Person/job. Two, confront the situation or the Person if you cannot walk away (in a Peaceful but Direct way). Three, Accept the situation as it is without stressing, as long you know you did all you could to try to solve or avoid it, No need to stress.

2. Migraine

Migraine is a more painful type of Headache that is very problematic. It is more common in Women than Men. It has a tendency to run in Families, Which means if your Mother is having Migraine Problems, there’s a high chance that you might have them as well in the future.

They appear during Puberty stage and become on and off for life. Here the Headache is Unilateral (Affect one side of the Head), Throbbing in nature and very Painful such that you cannot do anything while you have it. Some people even have Photophobia (sensitive to light), nausea and Vomiting.

There are no Known causes of Migraine but there are many Trigger Factors for those at Risk of Migraine or those who had attacks in the past.

Trigger Factors include Flashing Lights like in  Night clubs, TV, Computer and Cell Phone Screens. Food like Cheese, Chocolate, coffee, Caffeine drinks and Alcohol can Trigger Migraine Attack. Hormonal changes can also trigger Migraine, such Around Menstruation period and Contraceptive Pill (The Pill).

Different People have different Trigger Factors so there is no need to avoid each and every Factor mentioned, Some cannot even be avoided.

Treatment always Require a visit to a Doctor at first for a correct Diagnosis confirmation. It is treated with Prescription Drugs such as Propanolol, Triptans, Amitripylline and Paracetamol(acetaminophen). All these Medications Need a Prescription from a Physician.

Things that can help at home include putting Ice pack on the Head and Breathing into a Paper Bag. Reduce noise and Light during the Attack.

3. Cluster Headaches

Cluster Headache is More common in Men than Women.

The Pain is so severe it causes Men to Scream and stop whatever they were doing at the time. It affects one region of the head (see Below). the affected eye may be Red and have excessive Tears.

Cluster Headache symptoms
Cluster Headache

It always affect one side of the Head, each attack lasts about 15-180 minutes. The Person may get more than One attack per day and most attacks are at night. It is Triggered by alcohol and lack of sleep.

Treatment is usually oxygen and Prescription Medications like Triptans and Tricyclic Antidepressants.


  • If you have Headache that is mild for a few days, it is likely a Tension Type headache that Requires dealing with the stressing issue or adequate Rest and drinking water before jumping to Pills
  • Severe Headache Requires a Visit to a Doctor/Physician.

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