Headaches can appear overnight, but can also appear gradually, in a way that its intensity increases during the day, or even during the week. Yes, that’s right, an entire week! Headaches can last from just a few hours to several days.
Any type of pain is usually the way our body warns us that something is not right. You may have a minor injury, lack of some food or nutrients, or even been experiencing excessive fatigue. Therefore, it is important to understand its causes and be aware of the symptoms, doing what you can to reduce or stop the problem.
Do not hesitate to look for medical help or to consult a specialist if your headache is getting severe and you cannot identify any cause.
Learn more about common causes, types of headaches, and treatments below.
Most common causes of headaches
Stress headaches happen due to the release of hormones in the body when we get stressed. Adrenaline is one of these hormones. The high concentration of adrenaline makes the level of cortisol, another hormone, grow too. Due to this, blood pressure rises, muscles of the head contract a little and the head may ache.
Lack of Sleep
Sleeping poorly can cause you to have headaches or even migraines the next day. This can happen because of another hormone that we have in our body, called melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body (in the pineal gland of the brain), whose main function is to regulate the circadian cycle, stimulating sleep at the end of the day. This hormone helps to avoid headaches by favoring the synthesis of the body’s natural pain relievers, and getting too little sleep can lower melatonin levels in the body. Then comes the headache.
Heat, by facilitating dehydration, unbalances the process of entry and exit of sodium and potassium from the cells, causing a metabolic disorder that facilitates the headache.
Skipping meals and, consequently, not eating for a long time can cause hypoglycemia. That happens when your body has low blood sugar levels. This drop in your blood sugar levels can indirectly stimulate the release of adrenaline, which causes vasoconstriction, causing headaches.
Strong Headaches: Migraines
Often confused with other headaches, migraine is a type of headache that usually causes unilateral, throbbing and strong pain, most often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and intolerance to sound, light and strong smells.
Attacks tend to appear occasionally, lasting from four hours to 72 hours. In extreme cases, the frequency can be on a daily basis.
For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the migraine. An aura can include visual or other disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg.
Other types of headaches: Primary headache, secondary headache
This type of headache is not a symptom of some other illness. That’s why it’s called a primary headache. The most common of them, are:
- Daily and chronic headache
- Cough-associated headache
- Exercise-associated headache
A secondary headache is a symptom of an illness. There are several conditions that can cause a headache, depending on the severity of the problem. That is why, if you’re experiencing a headache for several days and cannot identify the main cause of it, you should look for medical care.
Self-medication for headaches
When experiencing headaches, many people choose to self-medicate with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. People who take headache medications regularly for three or more days a week may develop overuse of medications, or rebound headaches. Thus, excess medication can lead to serious complications.
There are less invasive treatments that are great for reducing and even preventing headaches and migraines. Two of them are chiropractic care or acupuncture.
Get Your Headache Treated
If you often experience headaches and would like to start treatment, some of the better options are chiropractic and acupuncture.
Chiropractic purpose is to not only restore proper alignment, but to remove the nerve interference that’s caused when spinal vertebra misalign. This misalign can cause tension in your vertebra, making you feel headaches.
The best way to know if you have spinal subluxations and need chiropractic care is to have your posture and spine checked by a chiropractor.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that’s an alternative to pain medications. Tiny needles stimulate your nerves and muscles, relieving pain and stimulating a full body relaxing feeling.