Menu Close

Top 5 Causes of Headaches

Health is one of the most common health conditions experienced in the United States, with over 10% of the population taking a form of headache medication every single day. It is very likely that all humans will experience headache in their lifetime. Headaches affect people of all ages, but the most affected individuals fall between the ages of 25 and 44 years.

Headaches come in different forms and are often have a variety of causes, which shows why the condition is so common. They can be categorized into two – primary and secondary headaches. Tension and cluster headaches are examples of primary headaches. On the other hand, secondary headaches are triggered by an underlying problem like injury, tumor, or infection.

Some popular causes of headaches include stress, muscle tension, and brain tumors. Here are the top 5 reasons why headaches occur.

Tension and Stress

Stress is one of the leading factors of headaches, as it causes tension in the brain and muscle tightness in the head. This kind of tension makes the individual feel as if a band of pressure is placed on their head. This tension is mostly caused by physical or emotional stress. Nevertheless, it can also occur as a result of misalignments on the neck and poor posture, factors that can refer pain into the head.

The best way to treat headaches due to tension and stress, apart from taking normal medication, is to make lifestyle changes like diet, and exercise. You can also consider doing stress management and paying close attention to your body posture. Some therapies you can take to handle headaches due to musculoskeletal issues include physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments.

Stress has the potential to trigger your body’s fight or flight response, which leads to faster heart rate, shallow breathing, and raised blood pressure. If you do not manage stress effectively, it can worsen your headache by tightening the muscles, minimizing the effect of medications like pain-relievers, and lowering your body’s endorphin levels.

Headaches due to tension and stress should be managed as soon as possible to reduce any detrimental effects.

Brain Tumor

Though headache is a common symptom of brain tumor, it is infrequently seen without other symptoms. In the majority of cases, brain tumor headache is associated with other neurologic symptoms such as seizures, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, or focal weakness. Headaches caused by brain tumor are usually steady, but may feel worse in the morning. The headache experienced is usually more persistent than a migraine headache, and might be accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting and nausea. It may get worse if the patient engages in exercise or changes body position frequently. This kind of headache barely responds to normal remedies, and if it does, the results are usually short term.

Headaches due to a brain tumor vary greatly, depending on the size of the tumor, rate of growth, and its location. Tumors at the center part of the brain can lead to extreme headaches, accompanied by loss of sensation and speech difficulties. Tumors at the back of the brain can cause headaches at the back of the head, and may cause unsteady gain and dizziness.

Encephalitis and Meningitis

Encephalitis can be described as a brain infection, caused by a viral infection. Apart from headaches, it is also characterized by seizures, fever, disorientation, and behavioral changes. On the other hand, meningitis is a brain inflammation caused by bacteria, which get into the brain via the mucosa of the upper airways.

Bacterial meningitis is a rare but fatal disease. Although the condition has immensely decreased in the United States due to successful immunization programs, meningitis still appears in different individuals due to the use of drugs or non-bacterial infections. The major symptoms seen in meningitis patients include severe headache, sudden fever, nausea, drowsiness, double vision, a stiff neck, and sensitivity to bright light.

Early diagnosis of encephalitis and meningitis is very critical, as it can help minimize the symptoms. These conditions are often treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine is one of the most, if not the most, widely used behavioral drug in the world. Research shows that 80%-90% of North American adults use caffeine on a regular basis. Coffee and soft drinks are the most used beverages containing caffeine. Other users access caffeine through energy drinks and tea.

Research shows that if people fail to get their usual does of caffeine, they suffer from a wide range of withdrawal symptoms like headache, fatigue, dysphoric mood, muscle pain, and even concentration problems.

Caffeine withdrawal can be referred to as time-limited syndrome that comes about after an individual fails to consume caffeine for a certain period. As aforementioned, headache is a major symptom of caffeine withdrawal, and usually takes place 12-24 hours after an individual discontinues intake. If you do not take a beverage containing caffeine, the headache can last even for a whole week. The symptom can be quite severe in high-dosing coffee drinkers. Re-introducing caffeine is an easy way to reduce the headache, as it works in just a few minutes.


Another major cause of headaches is hypertension, which comes about due to high blood pressure. Hypertension is a very common condition in the United States, which affects an estimated 86 million citizens. The condition is a major cause of stroke, chronic kidney disease, and coronary artery disease.

The relationship between hypertension and headaches is supported by the fact that many hypertension patients complain of headaches. Extreme high blood pressure levels can trigger an event referred to as malignant hypertension, which is also accompanied by headaches, chest pain, blurred vision, and nausea.

Headaches are a very common medical complaint, with many people having to experience them at a certain instance in the lifetime. They affect all people regardless of age and gender. In fact, studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that close to half of all adults in the world experience a headache at least once in a year. There are many reasons why headaches occur including stress, medical disorders, and chronic diseases. It is good to know the root cause of the pain, as this will help you take the needed action to handle the problem fast before it grows into a major issue.

Related Posts