You’ve been hit by a sudden storm of pain. Your head is pounding and you have no idea why. What could have triggered your headache?
Headaches are categorised as primary or secondary headaches. The most common types are primary headaches that include tension, muscle and cluster headaches. These are caused by spasms in the neck muscles. Secondary headaches happen when an external factor triggers the sensitive pain nerves in the head. This could a hangover, a concussion, dehydration, blood clots, brain freeze (ice-cream headaches) and the flu.
There are also a few unusual reasons for headaches:
Sure, that high ponytail or carefully pinned bun looks great, but it’s not doing your head any favours. The City of London Migraine Clinic found that more than half of all women experience tension headaches from tight hairstyles. This is usually due to the pull on the scalp, which causes pressure.
Avoid it: If you feel a headache coming on and suspect it may be from your hairdo, loosen it and the pain should subside. Alternatively, stick to a looser hairstyle and use softer hair ties.
Your sex life
It’s hard to feel sexy if you’re in pain, but unfortunately, getting it on may cause headaches for some people. A study by the British Journal of Medical Practitioners found that one in 100 people may experience “orgasmic headaches”. It’s described as a slow-building headache during sex. Most headaches may last several minutes and men are more likely to experience it.
Avoid it: Don’t worry, you don’t have to stop having sex forever to avoid headaches. If your headaches are mild, your doctor may suggest a painkiller an hour before sex. If you experience severe headaches or headaches which last for more than a few hours, talk to your doctor. Sex headaches may be linked to other conditions, like a stroke or inflammation.
Catching up on some z’s sounds like bliss, but it may be causing your headaches. There are two reasons why you may experience headaches over the weekend. One could be because you’re waking up and going to bed later than you usually do during the week. This messes with your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). Another reason could be that you have caffeine withdrawal. Waking up later means getting your coffee fix later, and this upsets your system, which may cause a headache.
Avoid it: The National Headache Foundation suggests waking up at your regular weekday hours. Avoid sleeping in for longer than an hour, too.
Also known as sleep apnoea, snoring causes you to stop breathing repeatedly while you’re sleeping. Dr Vernon Williams, sports neurologist and director of the Kerlan-Jobe Centre for Sports and Neurology and Pain Medicine in America, says that this can cause a lack of oxygen and pressure in your head. The absence of oxygen and pressure in your head may cause painful headaches.
Avoid it: Talk to your doctor about a treatment. Left unchecked, sleep apnoea can cause more problems down the line.
Your cellphone addiction
Scrolling through your social media feeds may seem harmless, but doing it for hours on end can wreck your head. Looking down at your phone, a laptop or computer screen for long periods strains your neck. This can cause headaches at the back of your head and around your temples. Your eyes are strained too, which can intensify the pain.
Avoid it: Try to take breaks while you’re using your phone. When you’re using a laptop or desktop, sit back and upright to support your neck and back. This will help you avoid headaches.
Good to know
The most common way to treat headaches is with over-the-counter medication, but ask your doctor’s advice for specific headaches and for different severities.