Headaches: The Real Culprits Behind the Common Ailment

Pounding, throbbing headaches are one of our most common complaints and most people experience them at some point in their life. They can affect anyone regardless of age, race, and gender.

A headache can be a sign of stress or emotional distress, it can result from a medical disorder, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, tumor, infection, or depression; or it can occur after trauma, such as sports injury, hit on the head or car accident, even without the head’s hitting anything in the car.  The jerking of the head in a whiplash motion can slam the brain against the skull (similar to shaken-baby syndrome) and also misalign the bones of the neck spine, leaving the car crash victim with headaches for months.  This is why it is smart to get a physical exam from a chiropractor after any fender bender.

Headaches affect lives.  For example, people with chronic migraine headaches are often unable to do work or school regularly, not to mention the toll that repetitive use of pain pills takes on your stomach, liver, and kidneys.

A headache can occur in any part of the head, on both sides of the head, or just in one location.  They can be sharp, throbbing or dull, appear gradually or suddenly. They can last from less than an hour up to several days.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are stand-alone problems, caused directly by the overactivity of, or inflammation of structures in the head that are pain-sensitive.

This includes the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of the head and neck. They may also result from changes in chemical activity in the brain.  High blood sugar sometimes causes the membranes around blood vessels of the brain to get inflamed, which may cause a headache.

Common primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches happen when another condition stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head.

A wide range of different conditions can cause secondary headaches, such as the following:

  1. Alcohol-induced hangover
  2. Brain tumor
  3. Concussion
  4. Dehydration
  5. Brain freeze
  6. Glaucoma
  7. Sickness
  8. Panic attacks
  9. Stroke

Because headaches can be a symptom of a serious condition, it is important to seek medical or chiropractic advice if they become persistent or severe.

For example, if a headache is more painful and disruptive than previous headaches, worsens, or fails to improve with medication or is accompanied by other symptoms such as confusion, fever, sensory changes, and stiffness in the neck, a doctor of chiropractic or of medicine should be contacted immediately.

In a tension headache, the person can feel as if a tight band is squeezing the head, with a constant, dull ache on both sides. The pain may spread to or from the neck.

Tension-type headaches can be either episodic or chronic. Episodic attacks generally last a few hours. Chronic headaches occur for 15 or more days a month for a period of at least 3 months.

A migraine is the second most common form of a primary headache and can have a major impact on the life of an individual.  A migraine can last from a few hours to between 2 and 3 days.

A migraine headache may cause a pulsating pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, blurred vision, and hypersensitivity to light and noise.

Rebound headaches often occur from the withdrawal of a drug, such as caffeine.  Normally, it takes just a couple of days of NSAIDs (over-the-counter headache relievers) to get over the caffeine addiction.   

Cluster headaches strike quickly around the same time each day for several weeks.  The pain is usually described as sharp or burning around one eye.

Treatments include over-the-counter medications and chiropractic adjustments to the upper neck.  If the head pain persists, stronger prescription medicines may be effective.


Do not underestimate the value of self-care.  There are some things you can do, and they are often successful:

  • Apply an ice pack to the back of your head or neck for ten to twelve minutes.
  • Avoid stressors, where possible, and develop healthy coping strategies for unavoidable stress.
  • Eat regular meals, taking care to maintain stable blood sugar.
  • Good sleep and exercise can also help.
  • Supplements such as magnesium may help.
  • Avoid eating sugar before bedtime.
  • You may be sensitive to aspartame, so cutting out diet sodas might work.
  • If you have some jaw pain, you might be clenching or grinding your teeth during sleep.  Get an anterior night guard from a drug store.  It prevents the night clenching.


Headaches: The Real Culprits Behind the Common Ailment


Article by Clear Content Marketing