START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

13 Surprising Headache Triggers

13 Surprising Headache Triggers

All the way back in 4,000 BC, it was thought that evil spirits were the cause of headaches. The cure? Removing a portion of the skull to allow the spirits to leave, of course.

We know better now, and though it can still certainly feel like evil spirits are wreaking havoc inside your skull when you get a pounding headache, the causes and triggers are actually often everyday things and activities. Here, a roundup of headache catalysts that may surprise you:

 

1. Relaxing

Taking it too easy can be bad for you, according to researchers who probably also hate kittens and rainbows. Weekend headaches? It might be because as a stressful work week comes to an end, your levels of stress hormones drop. That causes a quick release of neurotransmitters that send impulses to blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, causing a headache. Stay pain-free by not waiting until the end of the week to finally relax—make some time during the weekdays for walks outside or a yoga class or two.

 

2. Your Phone

If you’ve ever found yourself slouching over your phone playing Candy Crush for hours, you may want to give it a rest. The brightness of your screen activates the retina and the nerves behind the eye, which can cause eye strain and head pain—and the same goes for your laptop.

 

3. Lightning

Feel like your head is thundering when there’s lightning outside? You’re not the only one. A study published earlier this year in the journal Cephalalgia found that for those who already suffer from chronic headaches, the risk of getting a headache increased 31 percent when lightning struck within 25 miles of the participant’s home. The risk of migraine increased 28 percent. Further research is needed to determine the exact link, but the study’s author points to a few different reasons lightning may trigger headaches, including electromagnetic waves emitted from lightning, the increases in air pollutants that lightning causes, and the release of fungal spores.

 

4. Arguments

Need a reason to be a lover, not a fighter? Anger can cause the muscles on the back of your head and neck to tense up, leading to a tension headache. You also tend to take shorter breaths when you’re anxious, and the less oxygen you take in, the more blood vessels constrict, causing head pain. The next time you feel yourself reaching your boiling point, take deep breaths and focus on releasing the tension in your neck and head.

 

5. Your Period

Well, it’s official. Short of getting you out of gym class in eighth grade, your period is out to make you suffer. A drop in estrogen just before your period can be behind head pain, causing blood vessels to dilate and muscles to go into spasm. Between 50 and 75 percent of women who have migraines suffer from migraines linked to their menstrual cycle.

 

6. Your Purse

If your purse is over ten pounds, it’s probably causing neck strain…which leads to head pain. Balance out the load and carry a purse and a tote (one on each shoulder) if you’re going to be walking for a while.

 

7. Dehydration

Chug, chug, chug! Experts say that not drinking enough water can cause blood vessels in the brain to narrow, reducing the brain’s supply of blood and oxygen, causing a headache. Feeling thirsty is actually your body’s way of telling you that you’re already dehydrated, so make sure you’re downing water throughout the day.

 

8. Your Chair

The average chair is made for a 5’8″ man. If that doesn’t describe you, your chair may be too big for you, causing tension in your upper back, shoulders, and neck that can work its way up, triggering a headache. If you spend eight hours a day in an office chair, make sure it’s not working against you—add lower back support if you need it so that your entire back is against the back of the chair, and adjust the height so that your knees are level with or slightly lower than your hips.

 

9. Exercise

Although regular cardio exercise is good for pain, improving blood flow to the brain and relieving tension, up to 70 percent of chronic headache sufferers feel pain when they’re exercising. So what’s the deal? It depends on how you’re exercising—two main culprits of exercise-induced headaches are sudden sprinting and improper breathing. Keep head pain at bay by making sure you warm up immediately before a workout, and take the intensity of your workout down a notch if you can’t get through it without huffing and grunting the whole time.

 

10. Sex

Not tonight honey, it’ll give me a headache. For some people, a headache can be brought on by sex or orgasm. Experts haven’t figured out exactly why this happens yet, but they speculate that it might be due to pressure and muscle contractions in the head and neck during sex, or possibly the increase in blood pressure and heart rate during orgasm.

 

11. Weather Changes

If you feel like you get a headache every time it rains or the temperature spikes, it might not be coincidence. The pressure changes that cause weather changes are also thought to trigger chemical changes in the brain, irritating the nerves and leading to a headache for some.

12. Coughing

Though uncommon, for some, the strain of coughing can be enough to trigger a headache. It’s called a primary cough headache, and is thought to be possibly caused by increased pressure in the head. Also experiencing dizziness or fainting? Those may be symptoms of a secondary cough headache, a more serious condition sometimes caused by a defect in the skull or cerebellum or a weakness in one of the blood vessels in the brain, so get yourself to the doctor!

 

13. Certain Foods

Chocolate. Cheese. Wine. A list of my favorite breakfast foods or a few possible migraine triggers? Trick question—it’s both! All three of those have been known to cause head pain in some—click here to see more foods to approach with caution.

Which of these headache triggers have been the cause of headaches for you?

 

 

Read more: Conditions, General Health, Headaches, Health

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

477 comments

+ add your own
9:17PM PST on Jan 25, 2015

Along with improper posture and smog!

5:25AM PST on Jan 23, 2015

massage your head daily..

1:46PM PST on Jan 22, 2015

Interesting. Thanks.

6:50AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

ty

6:10AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

I wish this rain would come on and get it over with! My head feels like its gonna explode. :(

4:01AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

Time to lighten my purse :)

2:34AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

Thank you for sharing

1:04AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

thank you for sharing

1:00AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

Thank You for sharing

12:11AM PST on Jan 22, 2015

I had headaches that lasted days, usually every 3-5 weeks. Even going out in the sun wearing sunglasses gave me a headache. All this because I have strong facial frontal muscles. I started having Botox for cosmetic purposes and noticed I wasn't getting any headaches (it took me a while to realize the link). I've never had a headache since.....that's 8 years ago. I used to have to take so many pain-killers, and they only eased the pain, not totally got rid of it. So I have never had to take medication again. Just amazing!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thanks for this info

Thanks for this useful article and many good comments. But, writer didn't mention another reason: i …

OK the whole "carrots are excellent for your eyes"....stop it. Millions of children, myself included…

Good article, but it has been shown that taking magnesium sulfate is less effective than taking a ma…

CONTACT THE EDITORS



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.