40 Facts About Headaches Some Doctors Have Probably Never Talked About

At best, headaches are uncomfortable interruptions to the day. At worst, they can be symptomatic of life-threatening conditions. Read on to learn more about the types… Trista - August 19, 2019

At best, headaches are uncomfortable interruptions to the day. At worst, they can be symptomatic of life-threatening conditions. Read on to learn more about the types of headaches, what causes them, how to treat them, and some home remedies.


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1. Not All Headaches Are Created Equal

There are actually over 150 different types of headaches, and many of them have different causes and different treatments. They can last from a few minutes to days. You need to be somewhat familiar with the kinds of headaches that affect you so that you know how to treat them and can discuss them with your doctor.

You may think that the easy answer to a headache is to take some Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or other painkillers. But doing so can actually make the headache worse, depending on which kind it is.

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2. The Most Common Headaches Are Tension Headaches

That dull pain that you feel at some point during the day may be a tension headache, especially if any other symptoms do not accompany it. You may also feel sensitive and tender around your neck and shoulders.

Tension headaches can be triggered by stress or by a hat or hairstyle. They can usually be relieved by an over-the-counter pain reliever or a simple at-home remedy. However, if they become chronic and disruptive to your daily life, you may need to talk to your doctor.

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3. Tension Headaches Can Become Chronic

Dull aching in your head is never pleasant, but it isn’t mainly a cause for alarm. However, if you experience tension headaches multiple times a week, you may need to see a doctor to determine what the underlying problem is.

Tension headaches are often caused by inflammation in the blood vessels. If you are experiencing chronic inflammation, that could be the underlying cause of your chronic tension headaches. A doctor may need to determine why you are experiencing chronic inflammation and prescribe a treatment for it.

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4. Tension Headaches Can Be Caused By Lack of Sleep

If you are not sleeping well at night, or if you are not getting enough sleep, that could be the underlying cause of your chronic tension headaches. If that is the case, you probably don’t need to see a doctor. You just need to increase your zzz’s.

If you are having trouble sleeping, try using lavender or another relaxation-promoting essential oil before bed. Turn off electronics an hour before bed so that your mind is prepared for sleep. Make sure that you have ample time to devote to sleep. Your tension headaches may go away.

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5. Tension Headaches Can Be Treated With Ginger

If you are looking for a way other than OTC pain relievers to treat your occasional tension headaches, try ginger. Ginger is powerful, so you don’t want to take it straight. Try steeping a few slices of fresh ginger into tea or adding it to your morning coffee.

Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory. It can reduce the inflammation in your blood vessels that can be the underlying cause of your tension headaches. Consuming it regularly can help mitigate them, and it will also provide other health benefits.

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6. Cluster Headaches Cause Severe Pain

Tension headaches are often quite mild, but cluster headaches can cause a piercing, burning sensation, usually behind one of the eyes. On the affected side, the person may also experience nasal congestion and tearing of the eyes. These headaches can quickly become debilitating, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time.

Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes cluster headaches. However, men are much more likely – three times more likely – than women to experience them. They also occur more in the fall and the spring rather than in the summer and winter.

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7. Cluster Headaches Occur in a Series

Cluster headaches are so named because they occur in clusters. Each headache can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours or more. After the headache is gone, there may be no more symptoms. However, another headache is soon on its way. It may occur a few minutes or hours later, or even days later.

Many people who experience cluster headaches experience them daily for weeks at a time. When a series of cluster headaches are gone, the person often feels perfectly fine. However, while the series is occurring, the person will probably miss work or school, as these headaches can be quite debilitating.

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8. Cluster Headaches Can Be Treated With Medication

If you experience cluster headaches, you need to talk to your doctor about an effective way to treat them. Doctors don’t know what causes cluster headaches, but they can provide therapies and medications to treat the pain. Many people experience relief from their symptoms when they follow a doctor’s treatment plan.

Oxygen therapy, along with local anesthetics, such as lidocaine, and prescription painkillers, are the usual course of action for doctors treating patients with cluster headaches. However, this treatment plan cannot eliminate cluster headaches; it can reduce the pain associated with them.

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9. The Best Treatment Is Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you have ever experienced cluster headaches, then you know the value of prevention is indispensable. Eliminating cluster headaches before they start means that you don’t have to deal with the debilitating pain that severely limits your quality of life.

In addition to providing therapies and medications to treat the pain, your doctor may also help you develop a plan to prevent cluster headaches from occurring. He or she may put you on corticosteroids, calcium channel blockers, melatonin, or another series of medications. Keep in mind that doctors don’t know what causes cluster headaches, so to prevent these headaches, you will have to remain on the treatment plan long-term.

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10. There Are Some Alternative Treatments For Cluster Headaches

If you wait until you experience a cluster headache, your only cry will be for relief. However, if you plan, you can do some alternative treatments to help prevent them from occurring in the first place. Alternative therapies include yoga, acupuncture, and meditation.

These treatments can help reduce stress and inflammation, two key triggers that are known to cause chronic headaches. They may not completely eliminate cluster headaches, but they can improve your overall quality of life while reducing the severity and frequency of their occurrence.

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11. Herbs Can Help With Cluster Headaches

The severity and frequency of cluster headaches can also be reduced with some nutritional therapy, especially with herbs. Guarana, cayenne, and gingko biloba contain natural compounds that can be beneficial for relieving cluster headaches. Taking them regularly can help prevent them from occurring.

The best alternative treatment plan will be if you combine nutritional therapy with other alternative treatments, including meditation and other stress-relieving therapies. This will help ensure that you get the best benefit and outcome from engaging in alternative therapies and at-home remedies.

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12. Regular Exercise Can Also Help Treat Cluster Headaches

The benefits of exercise are so immense that it’s a wonder doctors don’t prescribe it as part of a treatment plan. There are obvious benefits – it helps your cardiovascular system, boosts endorphins to improve your mood, burns calories, and can help you lose weight.

Additionally, regular exercise can have the same benefit on mood as an antidepressant and burn off cortisol and other stress hormones that accumulate with individual lifestyles. Engaging in an activity regularly can significantly help to reduce the symptoms that you may experience from cluster headaches and possibly even resolve them.

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13. Migraines Cause Throbbing Pain

Migraines can last for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. They can cause throbbing pain in the front and back of the head, along with sensitivity to light, noise, and any other stimulus. Many people who experience migraines have to go into a dark, quiet room and wait for the headache to pass.

Some people with migraines also experience nausea and may even vomit. They may also experience blurred vision, digestive problems, and dizziness. Both children and adults can experience migraines. Many people experience them only seldom, but some experience them every month or even every week.

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14. Preventable Problems Can Cause Migraines

Many different factors can cause migraines, and some of those factors are preventable. Dehydration can be a primary cause of migraines, along with sleep deprivation and skipped meals.

If you experience chronic migraines, take a look at your lifestyle and see what factors could be causing your migraines. If you don’t sleep well or don’t drink enough water (coffee and tea don’t count), that could be triggering your migraines. If you experience migraines when you are fasting or have skipped a meal, then make sure that you eat regularly.

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15. They Can Also Be Caused By Hormone Fluctuations

Migraines can be caused by disruptions to bodily functions, such as hormone fluctuations. Exposure to certain chemicals can cause hormone fluctuations and imbalances, so if you experience chronic migraines, you may want to take a look at the substances that you are regularly exposed to, including cleaning chemicals and chemicals in upholstery and clothing.

If you continue experiencing chronic migraines, you may want to talk to your doctor about lab work to determine if you are undergoing hormone imbalances. You may be particularly sensitive to some common chemicals.

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16. Inflammation Can Cause Migraines

Most headaches are caused by inflammation, especially in the blood vessels, and migraines are no exception. If you see your doctor about medication to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraine headaches, he or she may prescribe triptans.

Triptans are a class of drugs that reduce inflammation. They also change the way blood flows in your brain. Your doctor may prescribe triptans nasal sprays, injections, or pills. You may need to take them regularly or only when you experience a migraine, depending on the treatment plan that you and your doctor agree on.

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17. Peppermint Oil Can Help Relieve Migraines

Peppermint oil can be soothing to someone who is experiencing a migraine. It can help to open up blood vessels that are inflamed and clogged, and the menthol in it can help to improve your overall circulation. If you are experiencing a migraine, try breathing in the scent of peppermint oil and see if it helps your symptoms.

Additionally, you can dilute a few drops of peppermint oil into a carrier oil, like almond oil. Massage it into your temples, neck, or forehead, and it will get absorbed into your bloodstream. If you like tea, you can use peppermint leaves to make peppermint tea, which can also help to relieve your headache.

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18. Lavender Oil Is Also Beneficial

Lavender oil is relaxing; when combined with peppermint oil, it can be precisely what you need to relieve your migraine headache. If you have a steamer, add a couple of drops of lavender oil so that the fragrance fills the room that you are in. The scent is light, so if you are sensitive to stimuli during a migraine, it may not bother you.

You can also draw a foot bath with lavender and peppermint oil. The heat from the tub will draw blood to your feet, where the oils will be absorbed into the bloodstream. They can then work to alleviate your headache.

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19. Primary Headaches and Secondary Headaches are Different

Primary headaches occur when the headache is the symptom. Migraines and cluster headaches are two common examples of primary headaches. There usually isn’t something else wrong with your body. You just have a dreadful headache, and to treat it, you have to make the headache go away.

Secondary headaches occur when the problem is something else, and the headache is a symptom. Sinus headaches, caffeine headaches, hormone headaches, and exertion headaches. To treat these headaches, you need to address the underlying cause.

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20. Sinus Headaches Are Secondary Headaches

Your sinuses are cavities behind your face that sometimes become clogged and filled with mucus. The pressure from the mucus builds up and causes you to experience what is known as a sinus headache. Sinus headaches are also known as allergy headaches because what causes them is seasonal allergies.

To treat a sinus headache, you need to deal with the underlying symptom, which is usually seasonal allergies. Once the mucus is thinned out, and the pressure is relieved, the headache will go away on its own.

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21. Migraines Are Often Misdiagnosed As Sinus Headaches

As many as 90% of what people believe are sinus headaches are actually migraines. They can have the same symptoms, but if you are expecting nausea and extreme sensitivity to light for it to truly be a migraine, you may wrongly think that your migraine is a sinus headache.

The best way to tell if you are experiencing a sinus headache or a migraine is to ask yourself if you are experiencing seasonal allergies. If you have a headache and runny nose from pollen, and you are also experiencing a headache, it is probably a sinus headache. If not, you are perhaps experiencing a migraine.

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22. To Treat Sinus Headaches, Treat the Cause

The cause of sinus headaches is seasonal allergies. There are plenty of medicines available, especially over the counter, to treat seasonal allergies. If you experience severe seasonal allergies, your doctor may recommend that you take steroid injections.

If you want to treat seasonal allergies naturally, try taking high amounts of probiotics, and eating fermented foods. Quercetin, which is found naturally in raw onions but can also be taken as a supplement, can also be helpful, as can eating yogurt and cheese made from sheep milk. Make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep and reduce the amount of sugar and grains that you consume.

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23. Women May Experience Hormone Headaches

The hormone fluctuations that women experience with their monthly cycles can cause headaches with varying degrees of severity. If you are a woman and experience headaches during PMS or your monthly period, the best way to treat the headache isn’t to take a pain reliever. It’s to address the problems of hormone imbalance.

The best way to address hormone imbalance is to limit the amount of sugar that you consume severely. Eat fruit instead of processed sweets, especially when you are experiencing PMS. And keep the mail moving – make sure that you go to the bathroom regularly, as doing so helps to lower the number of hormones that are building up.

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24. Menstrual Headaches and Migraine Headaches Come Together

As many as 60% of women who experience hormone headaches connected to their menstrual cycle also experience migraines. Doctors aren’t sure if there is a connection between the two, but there may be one. If you continue experiencing hormone headaches each month, treat them as if you were treating a migraine.

Stress-relieving techniques, such as meditation and exercise, are probably the best things that you can do to mitigate migraine headaches. Use essential oils and take supplements that improve your circulation and reduce inflammation. Eat a modified diet with less sugar and red meat.

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25. Exertion Headaches Are Caused By Exhaustion

If you tend to develop a headache after an intense bout of physical activity, you could be experiencing an exertion headache. Intense physical activity causes an increase in heart rate and circulation, meaning that you experience increased blood flow in your brain.

The increase in blood flow can cause an exertion headache to develop. These headaches usually resolve themselves within minutes or, at most, within hours. If you tend to experience these headaches regularly, you may want to end your physical activity a little bit sooner than usual.

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26. OTC Medication Can Relieve an Exertion Headache

An exertion headache is a secondary headache, meaning that the headache is caused by something outside of the brain. With many secondary headaches, OTC medications won’t treat them. However, exertion headaches are pretty primary, as they are just caused by intense physical activity.

Taking Advil, Ibuprofen, or another simple OTC painkiller can make the headache go away. But you may not need to apply any kind of treatment, as these headaches tend to go away as soon as your circulation returns to normal. They may go away on their own in only a few minutes.

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27. Eating Can Make an Exertion Headache Go Away

When you eat, your body tends to go into a state of relaxation, and your heightened circulation will go down naturally. If you experience an exertion headache after a bout of physical activity, you can make it go away typically by just eating something.

Try to stay away from simple carbs. They will make your headache go away, but it could return when the insulin spike induced by simple carbs goes down. Eat a piece of fruit with something that has protein. The sugar in the fruit will act quickly to make the headache go away, and the protein will provide sustained relief.

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28. Blood Pressure Can Cause a Headache

If you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, this condition can cause you to have a headache. If you know that your blood pressure is running higher than usual and you experience a headache, you need to get medical help right away.

A hypertension headache can be an indicator that you are about to have a stroke or other medical emergency. You may feel throbbing, pulsating pain on both sides of your head, a nosebleed, chest pain, and dizziness. Call 911 or have a friend drive you immediately to the nearest emergency room. Tell the person at the front desk that you think you may soon have a stroke.

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29. Hypertension Headaches Are Secondary

With a hypertension headache, the underlying cause lies outside of the head. In this case, it is caused by hypertension. When a doctor treats a hypertension headache, he or she does so by addressing high blood pressure. When the blood pressure gets under control, the headache goes away on its own.

As long as you maintain your blood pressure and keep it from spiking again, you shouldn’t experience recurrent hypertension headaches. If they do recur, then they could indicate an underlying condition, such as labile blood pressure that spikes periodically, despite following a treatment plan to control it.

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30. You Can Use Alternative Treatments For Hypertension Headaches

Keep in mind that hypertension headaches are caused by high blood pressure. There are plenty of alternative treatments for high blood pressure that can lower it without medication. Reducing your stress and engaging in stress-management techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can cause profound reductions in your blood pressure.

Additionally, nutrition therapy can mitigate it. Diet can significantly affect blood pressure, even if you are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Cutting down on red meat and sodium and reducing sugar intake can lower it without medication.

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31. Cinnamon Is A Time-Tested Headache Cure

Like ginger, cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can stop a headache as effectively as an OTC painkiller. If you experience chronic headaches, add some ground cinnamon to your morning coffee grounds, and you can start the day with this wonder spice. You can also leave cinnamon sticks in water and drink them cold, or steep it in tea.

If you are experiencing a headache, grind up some cinnamon sticks, mix them with a few drops of water to make a paste, and apply it to your forehead, temples, and neck. The cinnamon will get absorbed into your bloodstream, and you will begin to experience relief.

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32. Stretching Can Also Relieve Headaches Pain

Doing some simple stretches can help improve your circulation and relieve the headache without taking any painkillers. First, move your chin down, to the left, back to center, and then to the right. Repeat this a few times to loosen up your neck muscles and improve circulation to your brain.

Doing yoga regularly can improve your circulation over the long-term so that you don’t experience headaches as often. It will help keep your blood vessels limber and can reduce blood pressure, so it can help prevent many different types of headaches.

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33. Ice Packs Can Help Migraines

If you experience migraines, applying an ice pack to the back of your neck can help relieve the pain. The ice will cause the blood vessels to constrict, thereby reducing the inflammation that may be triggering the migraine. Also, the numbing effect of the ice can mitigate the pain that you are experiencing.

In addition to ice, steam can help, especially in the form of a foot bath. Applying a spoonful of mustard powder to the foot bath can be particularly helpful for severe headaches. Otherwise, add essential oils like peppermint, lavender, or cinnamon.

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34. Cloves Are Natural Painkiller

If you are trying to avoid OTC painkillers but frequently experience headaches, you may want to get some cloves. They have natural pain-killing properties that can help make a headache go away faster. Steep the cloves to make some tea, or put crushed cloves into a steamer and breathe in the fragrance.

Clove essential oil can also help. Add a few drops to a carrier oil, like almond or coconut. Rub it into your forehead, temples, and the back of your neck. Adding some sea salt to the mixture can help speed the absorption of the cloves into your bloodstream.

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35. Fresh Basil Reduces Tension

If you have a basil plant in your house or some fresh basil in your refrigerator, you may have everything that you need to treat your headache naturally. Basil has properties that usually reduce tension, and the oils inside the leaves work as a muscle relaxer.

Make tea out of some fresh basil leaves by steeping them in hot water for a few minutes. You could also eat the basil leaves straight by chewing on them to quickly extract the oils. Additionally, you can crush them and apply them straight to your forehead, temples, and the back of your neck.

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36. Prevention Remains the Best Cure

The best way to prevent headaches, especially if you experience chronic headaches, is to determine what in your lifestyle you can adjust. Do you exercise regularly? If not, you need to begin engaging in some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes, four times a week. You may immediately start to see improvement in your headaches.

Adding fresh herbs and spices – like ginger, cinnamon, basil, and cloves – to your diet can help prevent headaches before they start. Eliminate sugar and simple carbs from your diet, as the insulin spikes can trigger headaches. Reduce stress in your life. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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37. Hangover Headaches Are Easily Preventable

If you get severe headaches after a night of drinking, you are experiencing the most preventable kind of headache that there is. Hangovers are known to produce powerful headaches that can inhibit your ability to function for several hours to several days.

If you get hangover headaches, the best thing to do is stop drinking so heavily. If you are no longer in your twenties and your body is not taking the booze as well as it used to, then you really do need to scale back on the drinking. Doing so won’t just help your headaches; it will have many other health benefits, as well.

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38. Rebound Headaches Can Be Challenging

Rebound headaches occur when you have been using a particular medication for a long time and are getting off of it. They are especially common in people who have been overusing medication. In other words, these headaches are a lot like withdrawal.

In some cases, a rebound headache is the result of withdrawal. If you don’t experience rebound headaches and don’t want to, the best course of action is to not remain on medication for longer than absolutely necessary. Make sure that you do not overuse medication; only use it precisely as the doctor prescribes it.

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39. Treat Rebound Headaches With Alternative Therapies

The worst thing that you can do with a rebound headache is to use medication to treat it. After all, the headache is occurring because your body has a maladjustment to drugs in the first place. Instead, you want to look into alternative therapies to help alleviate the pain and reduce other symptoms until the rebound period has passed.

There are plenty of alternative therapies to help treat rebound headaches. Make sure that you get enough sleep so that your body can function without the medication. Get plenty of nutrition so that your body can heal from the effects of medicine, and you can feel your best. Acupuncture and other alternative treatments can also be beneficial.

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40. Caffeine Headaches Can Be Problematic

If you drink more than two or three cups of coffee a day, then you could become prone to developing a caffeine headache if you don’t get your regular boost of coffee. If you experience caffeine headaches, the best way to deal with them is to scale back the caffeine that you consume gradually.

Limit yourself to two cups of coffee in the morning and one in the afternoon. Make sure that you get plenty of sleep. Drink herbal tea instead of coffee; the hot mug in your hand can have the same “comfort feel” as a cup of coffee. Eventually, your caffeine headaches will go away.