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Common Causes of Headaches

Updated on July 13, 2009

Whether you’re someone who is fortunate enough to seldom experience headaches, or someone who regularly endures them in one form or another, it’s helpful to understand what triggers them in the first place. After all, it’s better to avoid a headache altogether, than wait for Advil to kick in. I am lucky in that I only get a few headaches per year which require ibuprofen, but, man, those headaches have a lot in common with the Energizer bunny, if you know what I mean. The headache triggers on this list are rather common, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s simply meant as a guide to help you avoid future headaches by helping you determine the source.

Jaw Issues

If you’ve got bruxism, or if you simply clench your jaw a lot for whatever reason, this can lead to headaches. Repeatedly stressing these muscles can easily lead to a headache; if you’ve got bruxism, or are simply someone who clenches their teeth during times of extreme stress, consider getting a mouthguard specially designed to prevent you from damaging your teeth and facial muscles. If you’ve got a toothache, or other oral issues, this could also lead to headaches.


Do you squint at your computer for long hours? Do you refuse to wear your glasses when you go to the movies? Do you read in poor lighting? Straining your eyes is one of the fastest ways you can land yourself a headache. You might be able to read the fine print for a few minutes without problem, but if you spend 30 minutes deciphering it, you’re probably going to stress your eyes and wind up with a headache.

Poor Diet Choices

Too much sugar; not enough sugar; caffeine withdrawal; caffeine surge and other food baddies can create headaches. This is pretty easy to test if you’re a coffee freak – simply skip a day of coffee and see what happens. No, wait; don’t. You’ll wind up with a major headache! Anorexia or poor diet structures can lead to constant headaches, as well.


Allergies can plug your sinuses up, which causes headaches. Tree allergies, grass allergies, dander allergies, mite allergies, food allergies, pollution allergies – doesn’t matter what the source of your allergies is: If your allergies get out of hand to the point you wind up with sinus issues, you can get a headache.

Hair Accessories

Got your ponytail in too tight? That'll cause a right pain after awhile! Got a barrette clipped in too tightly? Same problem! You don't want to do your hair up so severely that you wind up with a major headache by the end of the day (or sooner).

Muscle stress

This can cover a whole range of problems. If you’ve been working out and put too much stress on your body, you could create tension in that area which can lead to headaches. If you’re someone who copes with emotional stress by tensing up your neck and back muscles, this can lead to headaches. If you sleep funny and develop a crick in your neck or back, this can lead to headaches.


Certain flowers or fauna can lead to headaches. Certain perfumes can do the same thing. Certain foods and herbs can trigger headaches or even migraines.


Some types of lighting, fluorescent, for example, are known to cause headaches in some people. For others, direct sunlight can do the same exact thing. Others still are so sensitive that any indoor lighting can lead to headaches.


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    • shareitt profile image

      shareitt 8 years ago

      Thanks for you info. STRESS is a big one for headaches. Beware. :0

    • mayhmong profile image

      mayhmong 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Those are normally headaches to me since I got low-blood pressure. Hold on a sec...there kinda a black out for a moment.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      This is a great hub and makes me think that it is probably time for me to get real and get a mouth guard. I have been holding out for so long but it makes sense that if I grind and clench my teeth this could be causing my headaches as well. Thanks for sharing!!

    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 8 years ago from USA

      There really are a lot of factors that can cause headaches. I am always amazed at the many seemingly unrelated factors that come into play. I don't get headaches too often, but after having some coffee withdrawal headaches, I try to be much more careful about my caffeine intake.

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 8 years ago from North Carolina

      To be honest, I have never had a headache, I guess one of the real lucky ones. This is a great informative hub,