Every person has experienced headaches at some point in their life. But the type, frequency and cause of these headaches vary from person to person. It is common for you to get a headache from time to time, but if they are becoming more frequent or are affecting your quality of life, it may be time to get to the root of the problem. Identifying what type of headache you have is just the beginning, because you must then find out the causes of it. Only then can you make the necessary lifestyle changes to lower your chances of experiencing this nuisance again. Here are a few causes for different types of headaches you should be on the lookout for.
This type of headache is the most common. Although there is no guaranteed cause for this type, doctors have discovered that is most likely caused by a tightening of the muscles around the skull, caused by physical and/or mental stress. Physical stressors can be anything from strenuous manual labor to concentrating on a computer screen for prolonged periods of time. Mental stressors, like work or personal stress, should also be considered when determining the cause of your tension headaches. Reducing stress through relaxation techniques or taking multiple breaks throughout your work day may help to reduce the length and frequency of your tension headaches, maybe even getting rid of them all together!
This type of headache has been linked to the release of histamine and serotonin in the brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for many of the body’s biologic functions and is considered a possible source for this chemical imbalance. Specifically, cluster headaches can be caused by abnormal sleep patterns, medications and family history of this headache. As with most headaches, dietary habits, smoking and alcohol should also be considered as potential causes for this type. Getting a good night’s sleep, changing medications, watching your drinking/smoking or healthy eating can help to reduce how often you experience cluster headaches.
Migraines are one of the worst types of headaches you can experience. Pulsating pain, sensitivity to light and sound and nausea are all symptoms you can experience. This type of headache can be attributed to either genetic or environmental factors, sometimes both. The “makeup” of your brain, such as changes in the brainstem or an imbalance of chemicals like serotonin may contribute to your migraines. Certain foods or additives found in them (like aspartame or preservatives) can also cause migraines. Stress, sleep deprivation, intense physical activity, perfumes or other strong smells, medications (like oral contraceptives), or sensory elements (like bright lights or loud sounds) can also trigger migraines. Once you figure out what in your life may trigger your migraines, you can make the necessary changes. If your migraine pain does not improve, or if your pain is genetic, a trip to your doctor may be warranted.
Sinus headaches usually occur with people who are battling an infection or sickness. Allergies, such as hay fever, may also contribute to sinus headaches. In this case, the headaches are more frequent, because allergy-sufferers have to deal with their symptoms for longer periods of time. Pressure or inflammation of the sinuses is usually the root of the problem. NSAID’s (like ibuprophen), allergy medicine or cold/flu medicines can help to reduce pain, allergy symptoms and sinus inflammation and pressure while you are getting over your sickness or allergies. Preventative measures such as flu shots, allergy shots or basic health tactics (like washing your hands and distancing yourself from sick people) can be taken to keep you from experiencing these triggers in the first place.