What's causing your headache?

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints and affect around 10 million people in UK on a daily basis. Most headaches aren’t serious and are often treated quickly with over-the-counter painkillers, although they can vary in severity as some people will experience a dull, annoying ache and others will suffer from a more serious pain that could be a migraine preventing them from continuing their daily activities. Because headaches can often occur completely out of the blue, it leaves people wondering has caused their headache but there are many common and some surprising causes of this common ache.

Stress - this is one of the biggest factors involved in the trigger of a headache and accounts for around 80% of migraines. Stress causes a fluctuation in cortisol and adrenaline (the fight or flight hormones) that then leads to pain and nausea. Stress can also cause you to clench your neck muscles that results in the tight band feeling of pressure around the head, also known as a common tension headache.

Dehydration - simply not drinking enough water is a top cause of headaches. A lack of water will mean you are not providing your body with enough electrolytes like sodium, chloride and potassium that are needed for the body to function.

Not eating enough - as much as not drinking enough water can cause headaches; not eating enough can also have the same effect. Skipping meals is a main culprit in causing headaches, which is why it is so important to eat regularly.

Poor posture - sitting or standing in one position with bad posture causes tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders that will lead to a headache.

Perfumes - strong scents are another common cause of headaches. Household cleaners, fragrances and air fresheners all contain chemicals that can bring on a headache.

Weather - some people often notice they experience headaches with certain weather. These are particularly common with high humidity, rising temperatures and impending storms. These environmental changes in pressure can trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain, irritating nerves and leading to a headache.

Sex - it may be a longstanding joke that headaches are an excuse to avoid sex, but the truth is that headaches can be experienced during foreplay or just before orgasm. Doctors believe this is due to built-up pressure in the head and neck muscles. They may be inconvenient and annoying, but they’re not serious and no reason to avoid sex.

Bright lights - lighting, especially glare, can induce headaches and is a top cause of migraines. This will be why you often find a dull headache coming on after looking at your computer, television or phone screen for too long. This is because bright and flickering light can boost levels of certain chemicals in the brain to activate a headache or migraine.

Certain foods - unfortunately some foods that we eat everyday can be causing you to suffer from a headache. Foods like cheese, dark chocolate, diet fizzy drinks and processed meat and fish contain certain chemicals that are known to bring on a headache.

Cold & flu - many people will often find that when they are already suffering from a cold or the flu, headaches are a common symptom. This can come in the form of a sinus headache, where mucus accumulates in the sinus cavities to cause pain and pressure that is often felt in the cheekbones, forehead and bridge of the nose.