5 Surprising Reasons for Your Nagging Headache

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I've been battling chronic migraines and other assorted types of headaches (there are a SHOCKING number of types of headaches) for years now. They're genetic in my case - women from my father's side of the family seem to get migraines that just won't quit.

I've actually grown so accustomed to the headaches that I feel sort of weird when I don't have one!

In my travels through the nebulous world of diagnosis to treatment, I've learned a lot more about that pounding ache than I learned in nursing school. There are some downright surprising reasons for headaches.

1) Depression - we all know that depression hurts. That commercial will be forever etched into my memory (whether or not I want it there). Oddly, though, one of the things we seldom think of is that depression is a systemic disease, which means it can cause headaches.

2) Pain from other areas of the body - in medicine, we call that "refracted" pain, and a whole ton of conditions can cause it. Anything from a toothache or an earache to arthritis and pinched nerves can travel upward and cause a nasty headache.

3) The flu - while the flu is a disease of the respiratory system, often before one begins to experience coughing and the all-over body aches, a headache can be the warning sign that the flu is coming!

4) Medication - while it sounds totally baffling, a lot of medications can interact with one another to produce a very common symptom: headaches. Ask your doctor to do a check of all your meds - including vitamins and supplements, to see if they can interact with one another to produce your symptoms.

5) Dehydration - one of the biggest things that doctors tell people who have chronic headaches is to drink a little caffeine. And besides, keeping up with a busy life means that your morning coffee is your savior. Caffeine, however, is a diuretic, which means that if you pour too much coffee down your gullet (especially before or after exercising), you can become dehydrated pretty quickly. So pump up the water!

Do you suffer from headaches? How do you cope with your headaches?

Image via Italian Voice/Flickr

general health, medicine


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tcm_mom tcm_mom

I have been battling cronic migraine for 10 years. I have just recently been diognosed with Fibromyalgia, which could be the cause of my migraines along with my frequent uti's, minor depression and restless legs. As far as coping I just wait for it to end. Nothing ever seems to help the pain.

Flori... Floridamom96

Yes. Excedrin if I catch it in time or I just live through it with sunglasses and an ice pack.

SoJaided SoJaided

Tcm mom, I also have suffered from migraines since my early teens and have Fibromyalgia. I take a Maxalt and drink a soda. Its not always a fix but if I catch it early enough and relax and take it easy, I have a chance of stopping it

Jscot... Jscott1216

I suffer from chronic headaches and migraines. Doctor never told me why just prescribed something for it that never worked, so I take Motrin and if possible crawl under the covers, turn everything off and wait it out.

Mousuke Mousuke

I get chronic migraines too. They are managable via a combination of diet, exercise, and heavy-duty prescription meds. The pre- and post-ache/pressure/tension is awful, though. My biggest triggers are dehydration, hot weather, bright lights, not enough exercise, and processed foods/dyes/preservatives.

mumma... mummajenni

I started getting them in my late 20's. For the last ten years, I've been regularly getting adjusted by a chiropractor, every 2-3 weeks. If I go longer than a month without an adjustment, they come back. It's just what works for me, so o feel pretty lucky to have found something that helps. They're the worst!

Alycia Eggers

Most Migraines stem from a CNS disorder where the brain is predisposed to overreact to everyday triggers that do not cause these intense migraine headaches in people without this disorder - dehydration, hunger, sleep disturbances, stress, diet, changes in estrogen, and environmental stimuli. Some recent research has shown that people who exhibit these types of headache responses have abnormal cortical activity, with a hyperexcitable cerebral cortex that leads to an exaggerated response to external stimuli. Certain meds like the Triptans can help, but being aware of your triggers and avoiding them is the best prevention. The most common cause of headache, however, that is commonly misconstrued as a migraine, is actually a tension headache, and is from stress, muscle tension and cervical misalignment. NSAIDs and a chiropractor can be a huge help there. 

By the way author - it's actually termed "referred" or "radiating" pain, not refracted - just an fyi. :-)

Is-a-... Is-a-bell

I used to suffer from terrible headaches, being hospitalized several times a year. The doctors say it is genetic and, five years ago I treated with botox injections. From the first treatment, my pain is much less severe and I can operate almost normally. 

Treatment with Botox was approved by the FDA last year and I was part of the study group in my country. It is expensive, no insurance covers it, but if you suffer from constant pain and very strong, it is worth

Kate Kopasz

We've found lots of help and support and ideas for treatment in a couple of Facebook groups called Chronic Migraine Awareness and  Chronic Daily Headache Support Group

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