What Could Be Causing Your Headaches?
Headaches are among the most common ailments. In fact, half of the US population suffers from a headache at least once every year. Sometimes headaches are bad enough to put a person out of commission, causing lost work or school and productivity. Although the pain is in the head, the brain itself cannot feel pain. Scientist have determined that disturbances in the brain’s chemicals, tissue, nerves and blood vessels can trigger headaches.
The exact cause of a headache is not always obvious, and sometimes difficult to determine. Your specific headache symptoms will be your doctor’s best gauge to determine a headache’s cause and the best treatment. In some instances, headaches may be a sign of a serious condition, and as such, recurring headache pain should not be ignored.
Two Basic Headache Types
Headaches are classified into two primary types based on their cause. Secondary headaches are symptoms of an underlying medical condition. An example would be a sinus headache resulting from sinusitis, or something much more serious like a brain aneurysm. This headache type requires diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause. Once that is done the headaches will stop. Primary headaches are not brought about by some other condition. The headache itself is the ailment. Common primary headaches include:
- Tension Headaches
- Cluster Headaches
- Chronic Headaches
Each of these headache types have their own particularities and possible causes. There are a number of triggers for primary headaches. Often lifestyle changes can help to decrease or stop their occurrence. It turns out that our daily lives are filled with potential headache triggers.
Heavy Purses and Bags – The bag or purse you carry on your shoulder could be straining your muscles and causing headaches. If your bag weighs more than ten pounds you should lighten the load.
Changing Sleep Patterns – Insufficient sleep, or changing the times you regularly go to bed or wake up, can throw off the balance of chemicals in your brain and bring on a headache. Try to follow the same sleep routine every day, even on weekends.
Eye Strain – Many people spend their work day starring at a computer screen. Anti-glare screens can help you avoid headaches. Also, look away from the screen and focus on something else periodically.
Cradling a Phone – Holding a phone between your head and shoulder can strain neck muscles which can lead to headaches. If you need both hands free while you talk, consider a hands-free headset or a Bluetooth receiver for your cell.
The following are some other common primary headache triggers:
- Alcohol consumption
- Processed foods
- Poor posture
- Skipping Meals
Some Headaches May Indicate a Serious Condition
Strokes, meningitis, encephalitis and other serious conditions can trigger severe headaches. If you are experiencing a persistent headache that feels like the worst one you have ever had, or a sudden and severe headache, go to the emergency room. Do the same if your headache is accompanied by any of the following:
- High fever
- Numbness or paralysis on one side of your body
- Stiff neck
- Trouble seeing, speaking or walking
- Nausea or vomiting
Often, a headache can be remedied with rest in a quiet room and over the counter medication. If your headaches do not respond to these home treatments, are frequent or severe, call Miami Headache Institute to schedule a consultation. We specialize in the treatment of all types of headaches and are ready to help you eliminate your headache pain.
Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the founder of the Miami Headache and Neurological Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.
Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.