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Five Common Causes of Headaches

It’s estimated that at least half of the adult population experiences headaches at least once a year. A headache can be a sign of stress or emotional distress, or it can be caused by an underlying medical disorder such as hypertension or anxiety. 

There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches are stand-alone illnesses caused by issues with the structures in the skull or chemical imbalances in the brain.

Secondary headaches are more common and they can be a symptom of an underlying disease or a reaction to outside stimuli. For example, some people experience headaches after eating ice cream or after being exposed to loud noises. 

Our specialist, Dr. David Sudderth, treats headaches and he wants you to be aware of some of the most common causes of headaches.

1. Prescription and over-the-counter medications 

There’s a large list of medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, codeine, and certain sleeping pills, that can cause rebound headaches. Some medications you take to relieve your pain can make your headaches come back with a vengeance, a phenomenon known as the rebound effect.

If you experience headaches often, consider keeping a log of your symptoms and documenting their intensity after taking medications. This way, you can determine if your headaches are worsening or occurring more often.

Also keep in mind that since birth control pills impact estrogen levels, they can also trigger headaches in some women.

2. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. However, increased stress isn’t the only reason you may have a headache after a poor night’s sleep.

Research shows that sleep deprivation increases the creation of proteins responsible for inducing chronic pain. A 2018 review also linked poor sleep to tension headaches and migraines.

3. Strong odors and smells 

Some people have an increased sensitivity or suffer allergic reactions to chemical elements found in chemical cleaners, artificial fragrances, and gasoline. 

If you have a fragrance sensitivity on top of a headache, you may also experience allergy-like symptoms like sneezing or watery eyes.

4. Caffeine withdrawal 

Caffeine intake can narrow blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the brain. When you quit caffeine, your blood vessels open and the blood flow to your brain increases. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and anxiety.

5. Weather changes 

For some people, barometric pressure changes can cause a temporary disturbance in brain chemicals and cause headaches. When the barometric pressure goes down, it creates a difference between the air outside and the air inside your sinuses. This can result in pain similar to what you would experience during a plane takeoff. 

Find out what’s causing your headaches

Headaches are usually harmless. However, in some cases, they could be a symptom of an underlying condition that you should address right away. Dr. Sudderth can help you identify the cause of your headaches and come up with a treatment plan. 

Contact us to schedule an appointment with our specialist in Fort Myers, Florida, today.

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