5 most common causes of headaches

By November 9, 2016health
"Whats Causing My Headache?" infographic

Headaches are a common and bothersome ailment for millions of people around the world. Although most of them are not the root of a serious or life-threatening illness, there are some that require emergency care and can be life-threatening.

What different types of headaches exist?  

Fun fact: There are more than 150 types of headaches in humans. Wow! Here are the most common types of headaches:

  • Tension headaches – These are also known as stress headaches, chronic daily headaches, or chronic non-progressive headaches. They mostly occur in adults and teens. They come and go on their own, sometimes causing mild to moderate pain.
  • Migraines – The pain from these headaches is severe and sometimes debilitating. They can last as little as four hours and as long as three days. People who are prone to migraines usually get them one to four times a month. Along with the pounding headache, people often have light and noise sensitivity, loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea.  
  • Cluster headaches – This is an intense kind of headache with constant, throbbing pain behind the eyes. Doctors say it’s the worst kind of headache to have. They got their name because they occur in groups. The headaches can disappear for months or years, only to come back with one to three headaches a day for two weeks or a few months.  

What are common causes of headaches?


  • Anxiety – Stress can take a big, taxing emotional and physical toll on you. It can also cause headaches.


  • Glare/Computer Screens – Is your desktop or iPad too bright? Or did you stay in the sun for a long time without sunglasses? That could be the reason for your headache.
  • Noise – And not just loud noises. A lot of people think headaches are caused only by loud, blaring music or constant hammering, but they can also come from a low-level noise that’s repeated over and over again. Try a noise-reducing set of headphones to help.
  • Not eating enough – If you don’t eat when you’re hungry, you can end up giving yourself a headache.
  • Not sleeping enough or sleeping too much – If you don’t sleep enough, or if you sleep too much, you can cause a headache to form. Getting the right amount of sleep is imperative for good health.
  • Medication – Headaches are a common side effect of some, but not all, prescription medications. If you start a new medication and begin experiencing headaches, talk to your doctor.
  • Too much exercise – If you work your body too hard at the gym or on the track, sometimes your blood vessels will swell in your neck and head. That can cause a headache.
  • Not enough exercise – Balance is key. Although working too hard when you exercise can cause headaches, so can not exercising enough. Talk to your doctor about the right amount of exercise in your life.
  • Bad posture – Your mother was onto something when she kept telling you to sit up straight. Good posture keeps the blood flowing, and good blood flow prevents headaches.
  • Hormones – When women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), headaches are common. That’s because of the hormone levels (mainly estrogen) dropping in your body before your period.
  • Food and drink – Aspartame, the main ingredient in diet sodas, is known to cause headaches in many people. Along with aspartame, other common food and drinks that trigger headaches include caffeine, chocolate, cheese and, of course, alcohol.