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9 Causes of Headache: Triggers That Can Start Headache Symptoms

Updated on June 10, 2012
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I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.

Work stress can cause headaches
Work stress can cause headaches | Source

There are roughly 45 million Americans suffering from headaches. Even children are not spared from this incapacitating pain. Although the causes of headache are not clearly known, looking into the symptoms and their occurrence has yielded valuable information. Furthermore, one of the most effective ways to prevent headaches is to avoid the triggers that may cause this undesirable condition.

1. Your boss, your work and that darn paperwork

Your work and of course your boss contributes to headaches all over the world. Tension Headaches are those caused by stresses in one’s daily life. Anything that can increase one’s stress level can trigger headaches. Where else can you find more stress than in the workplace. Moreover, who can give you more stress than your boss. Surely there are other causes of headaches found in the workplace. This can range from the irritating officemate you secretly want to hex to the annoying clients you just want to shove in the closet. Employers lose as much as $13 Billion because of migraine every year.

2. Keep your cool – warm weather can cause headaches

Some people are more sensitive to weather changes. According to a recent study, there is a higher risk of headaches when the temperature rises. The researchers found that there is an increase of 7.5% chance for headache for every 9 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual mechanisms how increased in temperature increases headache risk is not clear. But lowering the temperature seems to be a good and practical way to keep your cool and avoid unwanted pain.

Physical activities can cause headaches
Physical activities can cause headaches | Source

3. The nose knows if it’s time for headache

Strong scents can trigger headaches. Although the reason for this is still unclear, researchers have found that even good smelling odors can cause migraines. Some inquiries are looking into how odors stimulate the nervous system and their possible effect on headaches. Strong scents like paint and perfume are among the common sources of headaches.

4. Physical exertions can trigger headaches

There are people who experience migraines due to physical exertion. This can be anything from strenuous exercise to sex. Now ask yourself, is the headache worth it? Depending on the physical limits of the individual, the amount of stress to trigger the headache varies. What is important is to know your limits and slowly work beyond it.

5. People who slouch beware!

Improper posture can cause tension in your muscles and spine. This in turn can cause headaches. If you spend a lot of time in front of the computer, you should be aware of your posture as it can be the trigger to headaches and migraines. Having the right chair with ample back support is one good way to battle headaches. You may want to adjust the angle of your monitor to improve your posture. Your workspace and your posture are major contributors to tension headaches among employees.

Nicotine can cause headaches.
Nicotine can cause headaches. | Source

6. Tyramine a trigger found in what we ingest

Tyramine is found in many food and alcoholic beverages. It triggers headaches in many individuals. Red wine, cheese and cold cuts are some examples of foods rich in Tyramine. Fermented or aged foods are potentially high when it comes to triggering headaches.

7. Skipping Meals

Lowering blood sugar can cause headaches. In fact, many experience light headedness even before the feeling of hunger sets in. However, eating sweets can be counterproductive as it can spike the blood sugar level then drop it down quickly again.

8. Inadequate sleep or rest

Insufficient sleep or poor sleeping habits causes migraines. A research showed that sleep deprivation suppresses certain proteins that trigger headaches. Although pain researchers from Missouri State University studied rats, it can have similar effects on humans. In any case, getting enough rest and sleep can increase the productivity of anyone.

9. Smoking

The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. This can decrease the blood flow to the brain and can be potentially fatal. Moreover the nicotine in the cigarette does not just affect the smoker as second hand smoke reaches everyone in the smoker’s proximity. One cause of cluster headaches is smoking. As such, avoiding nicotine helps prevent headaches.

The symptoms of headache vary from one person to the other. Moreover, it varies depending on the type of headache experienced. In any case, avoiding the triggers that sets off migraine or headaches can drastically improve the quality of life. It is therefore important to identify what triggers your headache. But this is no easy task. Here are some of the essential actions you need to take:

  • Record all your activities
  • Take note of the food that you eat
  • Keep track of all your medications
  • Log the date and time of your headaches

Understanding the patterns of your headaches will help you determine the triggers that you need to avoid. Once you’ve pinpointed what causes headache, you can manage it better. Of course consulting with your doctor will help. But most of the work is with you.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi mary615,

      Thanks for dropping by the hub. Migraines can really be annoying. Productivity and qaulity of life plummets because of it. I do hope she consults a physician for proper help.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Good Hub on the subject of headaches. I seldom get them, but I have a daughter who has migraines. They can make her life miserable, I know that.

      I voted this Hub UP.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello Brinafr3sh. Eating properly and hydrating regularly will help minimize headaches. The keyboard attachment is also a nice touch.

    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 5 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi this is very useful information, I have to remember to eat breakfast in the mornings, and to stay hydrated in the summer high temperatures. Also I plan on getting a keyboard attachment for my laptop to prevent my posture from making me get headaches. Voted up.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Ni chinemeremz. Nice to see you again. Although pain killers may provide some relief, targetting the root cause of the headache is more important.

      Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello magento-company thank you for dropping by.

    • chinemeremz profile image

      chinemeremz 5 years ago

      Thanks for this expose on head inducing factors. One other thing I've observed that causes headache is taking too many aspirins and pain killers especially when you are trying to stop a headache only for you to increase via intake of pain killers.