Causes of headaches

Causes of headaches

22nd June, 2016

Headaches can be extremely painful and very uncomfortable. Although pain ranges from mild to severe, any type of discomfort is usually heightened by the fact that the pains occur in the region of the head, making it difficult to ignore them. There are many different types of headaches that can be experienced. There are those that are dull and gradually appear as well as those that are sharp and throbbing. Some last for less than an hour, others can last for multiple days. With that being said, in this post we are going to take a look at some of the most common causes of headaches so you can get a better understanding of what could be behind the pain you are experiencing.


  • High Altitude – One common cause of headaches is being at a high altitude. This is why people often experience headaches when they are travelling via airplane. You may also encounter pain when engaging in snowboarding, skiing, or any other type of high altitude sport. This is because of the deprivation of oxygen. In a lot of cases, people experience nausea when they wake up, and the headaches are most intense during the evening. If this sounds familiar, the best thing to do is be prepared. If possible, reach your locale before everyone else, or at least go to the top of the mountain first. This will give you time to adjust. You also need to keep your stress levels low, stay away from caffeine, and hydrate.
  • Bodybuilding – If you are someone who regularly exercises and pushes their body to the limit, then there is a high chance that you will experience more headaches than the average person. This is because exercising to your maximum causes a sharp increase in blood flow and your heart rate. When your heart rate spikes, it can result in headaches that can last for up to two days. The best thing to do is invest in a heart rate monitor so you can look out for any signs of a headache. This will allow you to get to know your body better so you can avoid headaches more effectively.
  • Other Medical Conditions – Headaches can often occur because they are a symptom of another medical condition. In most cases they will arise due to the onset of a fever, cold, infection, or illness. Acute headaches can also be experienced because of otitis, otherwise known as ear inflammation or an ear infection, pharyngitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the throat, and sinusitis, which is inflammation of the sinuses.
  • Excess Phone Use – Are you rarely caught without your phone in your hand? If so, this could be one of the reasons why you are suffering from headaches. By looking down at your smartphone too much, you cause strain to the neck, and this in turn causes headaches to radiate from the back of your skull. They will then infiltrate the scalp before your forehead is hit. This is a neck strain headache, which is known technically as occipital neuralgia. If you find yourself suffering from this type of headache, it is likely that your doctor will recommend some form of medication that is available over the counter, such as vitamin B2 and magnesium. Nevertheless, you should certainly try to limit the use of your mobile phone.
  • Eating Cold Food Too Quick – You have no doubt experienced this before. It is what we call ‘brain freeze’. If you eat an ice cream or any other type of cold food too quick, it can cause a headache. This is known as a secondary headache because the headache is a symptom of a different condition that causes stimulation to the pain-sensitive nerves in your head.
  • Jaw Clenching – Are you somebody that clenches their jaw when they are angry, stressed, or frustrated? If so, this could be the reason why you are giving yourself a headache. Jaw clenching is something a lot of people do when they are stressed out, from situations when they are stuck in traffic that simply won’t move to being late to work. When you clench your jaw in this manner, the pain from this area can work its way into your facial area in the form of a headache. A good way to counteract this is to engage in at least half an hour of exercise, meditation or yoga per day. This will ensure you forget about your stressors and that you are more centred.
  • Headache Pills – This may sound odd, but if you take too many headache pills, you could find yourself suffering another and even worse headache. The worst type of headache occurs when you drink caffeine and use a combination of painkillers. The reason why too many pills cause headaches is because they lead to the brain being rewired. These headaches tend to have a pain that is dull and throbbing - it can seem like your entire head and even your brain is in agony.

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

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