Common causes of head pain

What could be causing your headaches?

Doctors do not know a lot about what causes headaches, but are trying to learn more to help alleviate the  pain for many sufferers. Learn more about head pain here.

Doctors do not know a lot about what causes headaches, but are trying to learn more to help alleviate the  pain for many sufferers. There are a few different types of head pain: tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and other types of head pain.

Tension Headaches

These are the most common headaches – three out of four adults get tension head pains. The reason it is called a tension headache is because it feels like a dull squeezing around your head. These head pains can be caused by fatigue, stress due to emotions or work, chemical reactions in the brain, or problems with the neck and jaw muscles or joints.

If you get these head pains often, you should look at what triggers the headache. Were you tired at that time? Did you not eat enough that day? Did you feel stress that day before the headache came on? Thinking through your triggers can help you avoid a tension headache in the first place.


These are not as common or happen as often as tension headaches, but when they do occur, they are usually more severe. Doctors believe that migraines happen because of changes in the blood flow to the brain and cell activity of the nerves. Migraines affect women more than men, but there is a genetic link there, too. If you have a close relative that gets migraines, you'll be more likely to get them as well.

Migraine triggers differ from person to person, but there are a few common ones that have been shown to affect migraine sufferers. Again, keep an eye on what may trigger your own migraines to get a better idea of what brings on migraines for you. The common triggers are: chocolate, alcohol (watch your red wine intake!), tiredness, lack of sleep, stress, pulsing lights, loud sounds, strong odors, skipping a meal,  aged cheese, cured meats and fish, too much or too little caffeine, change in weather, humidity, heat, and MSG (which can be found in pre-packaged foods and some Asian foods).

Cluster Headaches

This can be a much more severe type of headache and it tends to affect more men. Cluster headaches are called this because they come in groups. A person can get one to eight of these headaches each day for one to three months. This can happen during the same time of year, too. The pain typically is on one side and is very painful. It can start all of a sudden and last for half an hour to an hour. The triggers for this type of head pain are not known, but it may be linked to smoking.

Other Head Pain

Other head pain may be caused by taking certain medications; acute sinusitis; high blood pressure; eating ice cream too quickly; exercise; and even sexual intercourse. These headaches can be a sign of illness so it may be worthwhile to bring them up with your doctor.

You may not have one single trigger for your headaches either. The best thing you can do is keep a log of when you get headaches to help determine your particular causes or triggers. Getting to the source of the problem will help you avoid getting more headaches and help you be proactive in your head pain care. You are now on your way to fewer headaches!

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