1. Bad posture.
Poking your chin forwards will induce tension in the base of the skull. Habitually hunching one shoulder ( usually the right one) tenses up the upper fibres of the Trapezius muscle. These muscles are the 'storehouse' of headaches.
2. Tension headaches are most common and are caused as a result of muscle tension patterns which build up in the muscles of the neck, jaw and head.
3. How do I know if my headache is serious?
You may have slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss with your headache. You also can have fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting with your headache.
4. What types of headaches are there?
Episodic tension headaches: these can last from 30 minutes to a week.
Frequent episodic tension headaches occur less than 15 days a month for at least three months. Frequent episodic tension headaches may become chronic.
Chronic tension headaches: this type of tension headache lasts hours and may be continuous.
If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for at least three months, they're considered chronic.
5. Tension headaches vs. migraines
Tension headaches can be difficult to distinguish from migraines. Plus, if you have frequent episodic tension headaches, you can also have migraines.
Unlike some forms of migraine, tension headaches usually aren't associated with visual disturbances, nausea or vomiting. An increased sensitivity to either light, smells and or sound can occur with a tension headache.
6. Having an infection such as a cold or the flu. This state will induce swelling of the bone marrow of the cranial bones due to hyper-production of white blood cells to fight the infection. This also accounts for the aches that we can suffer from all over our body. The infection may also make the lymph glands or tonsils swell and inflame. The inflammation from these glands can spread to the Carotid arteries right next to them. Thus a 'pounding' headache can occur. An infection can inflame an old injury area due to the body-wide rise in inflammatory responses.
7. Drinking too much alcohol will dehydrate the brain and also deprive it of the correct sugars.
The brain floats in a sea of fluid called the CSF(cerebro-spinal fluid). The brain is itself around 73% water. If it becomes dehydrated, it will literally sink down. This puts pressure on the membrane known as the Tentorium Cerebrum which runs through the middle of the brain supporting it.
This membrane is fiercely pain sensitive and will produce intense headaches for the period of dehydration.
8. Eyesight problems. Eyestrain will give pain around and in the eyes. This may be simple ocular muscle hypertension or it could be a sign of increased intra-ocular pressure as with glaucoma. The former is relieved through rest, the latter tends to be less painful but more persistent.
9. Not eating regular meals. Low blood sugar can contribute to headaches especially in combination with musculoskeletal tensions.
10. Sleep is vital for many headache sufferers. I believe that when we don't sleep enough the serotonin levels in the brain are not restored to a normal level. This excess induces arterial spasm, lethargy and brain fog. This state is often reversed with a nap of a few hours.
11. Snoring can result in 'Stiff man' syndrome. This consists of headaches, lethargy and general achiness. This is due to lack of oxygen whilst we snooze. The same can occur in stale, stuffy and polluted environments. Joggers and cyclists can take in way too much carbon monoxide from pollution. This leaches the oxygen out of us. A snoring partner will often deprive us of deep sleep whilst gritting our teeth with each noisy breath of our loved one. We wake with a splitting head and jaw ache.
12. Head trauma Blows to the head cause pain and bruising. The cranial bone that has been injured can swell around the bruise: 'a painful bump on the head'. Such areas can remain sensitive for days or years. Head trauma will also have affected the neck. Tension patterns will often set in following head trauma. The cranial joints. especially at the temple (Point 3 above) can become impacted and painful. Jaw tension often occurs which aggravates the pain even more.
13. Concussion. This occurs with blows to the head which violently rotate the head e.g. a punch to the jaw. It is also common in car accidents when the speed of collision exceeds 25 miles per hour and the head is at an angle e.g. looking to the left. The impact of collision causes a 'contra-coup' injury and results in some bruising of the brain surface. When this has occured it is potentially very serious. There is bleeding into the brains drainage system. The drains (Superior and Inferior sagittal sinuses) and the lacunae which 'filter' the Cerebro-spinal fluid become clogged with the proteins released from the damaged areas. This in turn can raise the intracranial pressure (see my full article on this topic here: Intracranial Pressure mechanisms. It is now widely known that after head trauma there can be mood swings, changes of personality, aggression, depression and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms will results from the mild increase in intra-cranial pressure, both from the blockage to drainage and from loss of intracranial compliance or elasticity. Read more here: https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/effects-of-brain-injury/
What to do about it? Once the hospital is certain that there is no more bleeding in the brain, then have a massage, some cranial therapy from an experienced practitioner, hydrate, rest a lot and realise that the emotions you may be feeling are conjured up by the affected physiology.
14. Pathologies. Around half of people with brain tumors suffer from headaches.
Brain tumor headaches tend to be dull and persistent, with throbbing headaches occurring less often.
15. Menstruation and menopause. Hormones go whacky and all sorts of symptoms can prevail. The Vagus nerve registers sensations from the rapidly expanding upper uterus and cervix which transmit to the brainstem and interior of the lower rear cranium.
16. Food poisoning can produce headaches. A gut irritation can radiate pain to the back of the head and to the front above the eyes. The pain gradually grows over a few hours, nausea builds up, a slight fever occurs culminating in vomiting and eventual relief.
17. Stress is of two flavours. The first is the commonly accepted definition, one of having too much to do, being under threat, frustration in a particular matter and with life in general. Depression and awful thoughts creep in through our open wounds. The invisible enemies of bills, uncertainty and loss of self esteem.
18. External stressors. The roadworks outside your door, the noisy night-time neighbours. The bully down the road, the weather conditions, the theatre of war and disaster which assails our consciences.
Some people do not know how to silence the eternal mental machinations seeking perfection and certainty in all. This can lead to a severely depressed state.
So how does stress produce headaches? By inducing muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and jaw muscles as part of a 'fear' response.
19. Can diet and allergies produce headaches? Migraine and headache sufferers often seek an answer in trying to find out if they are allergic to anything they are eating. Chocolate and tomatoes appear to be the most common avoidable sensitivities that people have successfully found to reduce their migraine frequency.
20. Can indigestion produce headaches? If we eat too fast and don't chew our food enough it can slow the digestion in the stomach. When we consume fluids with our meal it can interfere with digestion. Water can dilute the gastric juices and orange juice for example can create too much acid for the small intestines which then grind to a halt. An unchewed piece of red pepper can get 'stuck' in the intestines and will provoke abdominal discomfort and vomiting up of the offending article.