There’s probably not a single person in the world who hasn’t suffered from the dreaded headache, whether it’s a dull pain or a full-blown migraine. But what actually causes a headache? Understanding how a headache occurs is one of the best ways to determine the best way to treat it.

While the brain itself can’t feel pain, medical experts now know that the cause of headaches lies not in the brain itself, but in the brain’s surrounding tissues, brain chemicals, blood vessels, and nerves, which all produce the pain signals that trigger a headache.

There are a number of different types of headaches that people frequently experience:

  • Cluster Headaches – Frequent, intense, one-sided headaches

    These excruciating types of headaches usually occur on one side of the head only, and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Cluster headaches can often recur regularly, sometimes even multiple times per day, over a certain period of time. They then may be followed by a headache-free period of months or even years. One or both eyes may also experience redness and watering, and these types of headaches are generally more common in men than in women.

  • Migraines – Severe headaches, the ultimate cause of which is unclear

    The pesky and extremely painful migraine is a severe type of headache, which occurs three times as often in women than in men. Medical experts aren’t completely clear on the cause of migraines, but have found that genes can play a role. Studies have also shown that brain cell activity can affect blood vessel and nerve cell function which can lead to the migraine, and other triggers can include sudden changes in hormones, caused by stress, or altered eating and sleeping patterns.

  • Tension Headaches – Constant aching and pressure on both sides of the head

    The most common of all kinds of headaches, tension headaches usually feel like a constant dull aching or pressure on both sides of the head or at the back of the head and neck, rather than a throbbing pain. Triggers for these types of headaches include factors such as anxiety and stress, poor posture, and jaw clenching (either while someone is asleep or awake). These headaches can become chronic if left untreated.
  • Sinus Headaches – Caused by sinus infections

    Often misdiagnosed, true sinus headaches are caused by an infection in the sinuses, and are accompanied by nasal discharge that is green or tinged with red. Sinus infections often clear with time, but antibiotics may also be necessary. Often, people think they have a sinus headache when they really have a migraine. One study even found that 88% of people with a history of sinus headaches probably really had migraines. While symptoms like sinus pressure, nasal congestion, and watery eyes can happen in both migraines and sinus headaches, migraines often cause nausea and light sensitivity, while sinus headaches do not.

  • Rebound Headaches – Chronic headaches caused by medication

    Thinking of popping a painkiller to ease the pain of your headache? Think again – it could be causing your headache in the first place. Rebound headaches are chronic headaches that are actually caused by medication overuse, in a similar way to how overusing nasal decongestants can lead to a constantly blocked nose. What kinds of medicines put you at risk? Regularly taking any pain reliever like acetaminophen (Panadol), aspirin, or ibuprofen (Nurofen) more than two times per week, or taking triptans (migraine drugs) for more than 10 days a month for just a few months can put you at risk of developing rebound headaches.

Speak to an expert about your headaches

Whatever type of headache you might be experiencing, it’s best to have yourself examined by an expert. Our Chiropractors are experts in diagnosing which type of headache you have, and identifying how to treat it effectively through long-term treatment and solutions, rather than just a quick-fix for symptoms.

To see how our expert chiropractic services can help relieve your headache pain,

contact us today