Headaches Causes – What Your Headache Might Mean

Headache_01_72dpiHeadaches are one of the most common medical complaints among any age group. They can hit you at any time and range from a small twinge to horrible pain that leaves you in bed all day. Headaches come in many varieties and can be the result of numerous different causes. Most often, they result from something going wrong somewhere in the body. Often, headaches are not serious and they are simply triggered by stress, a small cold, a hangover or from being overly tired or hungry. However, in some cases, headaches can be very serious. If you or someone you love suffers from headaches often, then it may be a good idea to go to the doctor for a routine physical. In this article we will discuss several of the possible causes of headaches that affect people every day.

Medication Overuse

Many people slip into a habit of taking pain medication every day for headaches, arthritis or common aches and pains. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of taking pain medication for too long or mismanaging pain medicine is pain. Headaches can occur if you mismanage your pain medication or begin to rely on your medication for everyday aches and pains. Headaches occur whenever you become reliant on your pain killers and your body gets out of whack. Suddenly, you may find yourself having pain both with and without the medication. If you notice that you are taking pain medication and still having dull headaches, then talk to your doctor. They can review your medication and reevaluate if you still need to take certain medications that you may have taken for many years. After getting rid of a few older medications and replacing them with new ones, you should feel less pain and stop suffering from headaches.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the blood vessels in the scalp and head. It most often affects elderly people and it causes throbbing headaches. Giant cell arteritis can cause persistent, throbbing headaches that are centered near the temples or near the eyes. Usually, the headaches are accompanied by flu-like symptoms and weight loss. People suffering from this disease may also experience fatigue, sweating, jaw pain and enlarged lymph nodes. If you have been experiencing these symptoms, then talk with your doctor. Untreated, this disease can increase a patient’s risk of stroke and vision loss.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a disease that combines emphysema with chronic obstructive bronchitis. It is usually caused by damage to the lungs due to smoking and is seen frequently in the elderly population. Headaches are common symptoms of COPD due to a lack of oxygen. Headaches due to COPD are often worse in the morning and get better throughout the day. If you have suffered from these types of headaches and have smoked throughout your life, then you may be suffering from the early symptoms of COPD. Talk with your doctor to get checked for lung disease.


One of the first symptoms of dehydration is thirst, but after the initial thirst goes away, headaches, fatigue and weakness can follow. Dehydration changes the blood flow and electrolyte balance in your blood which can cause headaches to occur. Headaches from dehydration will get worse whenever you bend over, walk or move in any way. To combat dehydration, it is vital that you drink at least four to five cups of water per day. During the summer more water or fluids may be necessary to stay hydrated. Other signs of dehydration include dark urine, chapped lips, a fast pulse, confusion and weakness.

Referred Pain from Arthritis

When one part of the body, such as the joints, are inflamed and hurt the inflammation may press on a nerve. All nerves travel to the spine and many connect to nerves that surround the brain. If there is inflammation in some part of your body that is pressing on a nerve, the pain can travel to your head and cause a headache. Pinched nerves throughout your body can also cause headaches. If you are experiencing headaches and you also suffer from arthritis or a nerve condition, then speak with your doctor about treating you arthritis or nerve pain. If you treat the cause, then your headache should disappear.

Depression or Anxiety

Many psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, worry or stress can manifest themselves as headaches. These conditions can all cause a continuous headache that lasts for months or even years. If you have suffered from a headache for a prolonged period of time that does not respond to pain killers, then you may be suffering from a psychological disorder. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and see if you fit the criteria for depression or anxiety.


The flu is an infection of the respiratory system that is often preluded by a massive headache. If you have experienced an out of the blue headache then it can be a warning sign that you are about to be sick. Fortunately, if your headache is from the flu, then it is likely you will know it in a few short days. Within a few days the other symptoms of the flu, fever, aches and pains, fatigue and weakness will show up. If you experience flu-like symptoms then stay home while you are contagious and get a lot of rest to recover.

Headaches can be extremely annoying. They come on without warning, and can drastically change your day. A small headache can turn into a massive migraine that has you running towards the nearest low lit room and pain medications. If you suffer from constant headaches, then it is likely that you have another health issue affecting your body. Fortunately, most headaches are easy to fix and are not a huge cause for concern. However, if you have suffered from any of the headaches mentioned above, you may need to visit your doctor. With a simple routine physical, your doctor may be able to diagnose the cause for your headaches and prescribe you a treatment plan that can reduce your headaches and ensure that you are healthy and happy.

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