Causes & Symptoms

Over 30 million Americans, or about 11 in 100 people, suffer from chronic headaches. Headache is one of the most common locations of pain in the body and has many causes. Learn how to cope with your migraines.

Primary Headaches

Primary Headaches include Migraine, Tension, and Cluster Headaches, as well as several other less common types of headache. The causes of these headaches are not well understood. However, most experts maintain that Primary Headaches are caused by a combination of vascular disorders and neurological disorders in the head and neck.

Some people experience warning signs, or aura, prior to Migraine headaches. Aura usually includes visual impairment, unusual smells, or other abnormal sensory experiences that are a sign that a headache is coming.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary Headaches are those headaches that have underlying causes related to structural or functional problems in the head or neck. For example, these are headaches that may be caused by pain arising from the neck muscles or from the excessive use of painkillers.

Other common symptoms associated with both Primary and Secondary Headaches include:

  • Pulsating pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain localized to one side of head (hemicranial)
  • Numbness, Tingling, Weakness
  • Facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia)
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Some Common Causes and Triggers include:

  • Bright Lights
  • Alcohol
  • Loud Noises
  • Pain from problems in neck and spine
  • Certain Odors or Perfumes
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Foods (Chocolate, Dairy, Fruits, etc.)
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Excessive visual input
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Disrupted Sleep Patterns
  • Exercise
  • Emotional Stress