Headache - What Causes It and How to Ease It


Most people suffer from headaches, but brain tumours and other serious problems are rare. Stress, poor sleep and diet are the main causes of headaches. You can ease these headaches by changing your routine or using pain medications. Headache is a common reason for patients to visit their doctors. If not treated correctly, it can lead to lost workdays and reduced productivity.

The majority of headaches are due to tension in the neck muscles and scalp. They can be caused by emotional stress, poor posture when working or sleeping, eating foods high in salt, and skipping meals. Alcohol, certain medications and too much sun can trigger them. Relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation can often ease these headaches. Massages of the neck and head can help as can using cold or hot compresses. Avoiding scented products and relaxing in a quiet and dark room are also helpful.

A headache can be a sign or symptom of an infection, or even a more severe disorder like a brain tumour. In such cases, a doctor will perform a complete medical examination. He may also order imaging tests like CT or MRI to rule out other problems. You should give your doctor as much detail as possible about the symptoms you experience, including how often they occur, what causes them, and when and where they begin and end. Also, tell them what makes them worse. This can be helped by keeping a headache journal.

Another cause of headache is sinusitis, which is an inflammation of the sinuses. Other causes include ear infections or throat infections. Some medications can cause a headache, particularly those that dilate the blood vessels. These are known as vasoconstrictors. Tell your doctor about any medication you are taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Your doctor may refer to a neurologist if you experience headaches at least three times per week. A neurologist is a specialist who treats disorders of the nerves and brain. Many headache sufferers who visit a specialist are treated with pain relievers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and triptans. It is important not to take too much pain relief medicine as it can cause a vicious circle of headache relief followed by rebound headaches. Headache prevention includes staying hydrated, exercising regularly and eating foods that are not triggers.