Headache causes, treatments, and types
Can our knowledge of headache causes help us to treat headaches more effectively? Do different types of headache and migraine and cluster headache come from different sources?
Yes, our understanding of headache causes has grown significantly in the past 30 years. We know that, whatever it may feel like, your brain doesn't "hurt" because it has no nerve endings. However, nerves in the head outside of the brain certainly send pain signals during a headache.
This understanding has led to new treatments that can target the symptoms of migraine or headache more specifically. However, there's still a lot we don't understand about headache and migraine.
What "Cause" are you looking for?
Before we look at what actually causes headache - let's talk about what we mean by a "cause".
A true cause would be something like a disease or genetic flaw or even an outside force that brings on a headache in a person who would be healthy otherwise. Though we still have a lot to learn about what causes headache or migraine, we do have some clues which we'll talk about in a moment.
However, sometimes people who talk about headache causes are talking about triggers
. Most often, this is a migraine trigger, or something that sets off a migraine attack. In a person predisposed to migraine (a person with migraine disease), certain factors such as food or hormonal changes or weather may trigger
a specific attack. Find out about migraine triggers here.
Tension Type Headache
Many people associate tension headaches (now called tension type headaches) with common mild headaches. The truth is, the distinction between these and migraine is not so clear.
We used to think that these were caused by the contracting of the layer of muscle around your skull, which in turn can decrease blood flow to your head. Although muscles and blood vessels may play a part, often people with a so-called "tension" headache don't have unusual muscle tension! Neither is it caused by moodiness. This common headache is most likely caused by a similar mechanism to migraine (see below).
|Your website is such a welcome relief to so many. Thank you for the frank, plain-English explanations of why I feel so lousy sometimes, and especially so that I can find a way to explain to my wife what these darn things are like to live through.|
There are many types of migraine, but most are probably caused by a similar mechanism.
Migraine may actually be caused by issues deep in the brain stem. In spite of the advances made in the past few years, there is still a lot we don't know about our own brains.
Migraine does seem to be caused by a web of reactions and chain-reactions that happen in the body. They likely start with genetic abnormalities in certain people, and a brain which becomes over-sensitive to stimulus. A chain reaction
begins, including changes in the trigeminal nerve and a kind of "brain storm" called a cortical spreading depression.
If you want to go into more detail, read What is Migraine? (the scientific story)
As we learn more about migraine, we're finding more effective treatments. Read How to treat a migraine
to get started.
Because cluster headaches come in "clusters" - that is, they are attacks that tend to come like clockwork during a 24 hour cycle, and sometimes following cycles of years or seasons, we think that they are related to the body's biological clock. The hypothalamus
, a portion of the brain, is where the body's clock seems to be. Researchers have found that cluster patients have increased activity in this part of the brain during attacks.
Like migraine, the headache causes of cluster is probably due to a complex web of reactions taking place, including the trigeminal nerve. Although we don't understand the ultimate cause of cluster, it does seem to relate to abnormalities in the hypothalamus.
Read about cluster headache treatments here
Secondary headaches are caused by another known problem
, such as allergies, a blow to the head, or a viral infection. The Mayo Clinic has a list of some of these headache causes here
This website investigates headache causes, treatments, triggers and the latest research. To investigate these and other headaches, this page will help you find your type of headaches
Are you tired of just living with
headache, cluster, or migraine?
|I ... wanted to touch base with you about the wonderful website. I have a 15 year old son ... who has been suffering from migraines since October. Your section on weather related migraines has proven to be so helpful. I was so thankful to find your website and I have passed it on to two other migraine suffers. So thank you so much for your hard work and I just wanted to let you know you have made a Mom in ... Canada feel so much better. ~ Kathy (Canada)|
Here are some articles you may find helpful:
AwardsIf you've found this site helpful, why not link to us so others can benefit?
- Headache and Migraine News redirect
- Redirecting to the Headache and Migraine News Blog
- Migraine search page – find answers fast!
- Find migraine information fast on this migraine search page. Find info on symptoms, other types of headache, treatments, and therapies.
- The Cause of Migraine: Evidence and Controversy
- What is the cause of migraine? What is a migraine and how can you stop it from attacking? Discover what the latest research is telling us about migraine headaches...
- What's the best herb for headache? The latest research for your headache...
- Looking for an herb for headache? Here are the herbs that are considered the best. Look here for herbal remedy for headache and migraine herbal remedies as well! Then find the best one for YOU!
- What is a symptom of migraines, and how are other headaches different?
- Think you might have a symptom of migraines? You need to know what type of headache you have before you can cure it!
- What type of headaches do you have? What's the difference?
- What is your type of headaches? You've got to know what it is before you fix it! Read about migraines, cluster, thunderclap, tension and more!
- The Migraine Quiz
- Test your friends with the Migraine Quiz! Do they understand what migraine is? Are they the friends you'd like to have around when you're waiting to see the doctor?
- Migraine nausea
- It's a feeling of the worst kind - migraine nausea. What can you do to fight it? Is there special treatment for migraine nausea? Let's take a look at what you can do to stop it...
- Diet headache migraine – food can help end your migraine headache pain!
- Find the diet headache migraine connection: Simple and easy food choices can save you a lot of headache pain! Relieve your migraines by changing your diet. . . .
- Medication migraine answers...
- Medication for migraine - what's available, what's new, and what's right for you. Find medication migraine answers here...
- Migraine prevention
- What types of migraine prevention are available? Here you can learn about both natural and medicinal solutions for migraine prevention...
- The migraine trigger – what they are and how to avoid them
- Identifying and avoiding your migraine trigger – what they are, how to identify them and how to avoid them...
- Child Migraines – how often they happen, and what you can do about them!
- Dealing with child migraines? Does your child really have them, and how can you understand and help them go away?
- Dealing with your Barometric Pressure Headache – weather the pain storm!
- How to handle the dreaded barometric pressure headache! What is the research that's been done and what really helps?
- Hormonal headache – getting free from the cycle of pain!
- Finding solutions to hormonal headache – there really ARE ways to fight the pain!
- Eye migraines – symptoms of eye or silent migraine and what to do about them.
- What are eye migraines? Here's the low down on ocular, ophthalmic, and other eye migraines...
- Silent Migraine
- Silent migraine, also known as migraine aura without headache, migraine equivalent or acephalgic migraine, is actually fairly common. Here's what you need to know about silent migraine...
- Migraine aura art
- See some migraine aura art, and migraine art in general here and in galleries and museums around the internet!
- Find competent migraine doctors in your area...
- Looking for migraine doctors? Here's where to start your search, and here's how to judge if you've got a doctor who can really help...
- Botox for Migraine
- This is the debate: is Botox for migraine really a valid treatment? Is the Botox and migraines connection backed up by the facts? Find out before you take the plunge...
- Menstrual migraine - real pain, real solutions
- For a long time Menstrual Migraine has been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated. But new information is helping doctors and patients find real answers to this debilitating disease...
- In your fight against migraines, are you making any headway?
- The latest headache news and the best headache remedies! Have the newest research as well as the tried and true home remedies delivered right to your inbox with HeadWay!
- How relieve-migraine-headache.com came to be - a migraine website story...
- This migraine website was born out of over 15 years of migraine and other types of headaches, and frustration over misinformation and LACK of information...
- Taking posture exercise to a new level – can Dr White end your pain?
- Posture exercise from Dr White is a lifestyle designed to eliminate back pain, joint pain and more. Especially designed for those who just don't have the time...
- Community articles
- Do you have migraine or headache? Share your experience at community articles...
- Headache resources - where to find more excellent information and support
- A growing list of headache resources for migraine sufferers, cluster headache sufferers, and anyone looking for great headache information...
- Relieve-Migraine-Headache.com Site Map
- Index of pages at Relieve-Migraine-Headache.com
- Sinus headache relief
- What is the best sinus headache relief? Let's look at some options to get rid of that horrible ache in your head from sinus headache...
- Medical Video Games?
- Is there a medical benefit to video games? Can medical video games help alleviate chronic pain, or even improve health? The answers may surprise you!
- Lupus Headache
- What is a lupus headache? Is it different from other types of headache, and if so, are there different treatments? What about Lupus and migraine?
- Excedrin Migraine - cautions and tips
- Here's what you need to know about Excedrin Migraine - the pain killer from the popular Excedrin line. What's in it, and will it help?
- Post Concussion Syndrome - causes and treatment
- Just when you think you ought to be getting better, the symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome drag on and on... but what is PCS, and are there treatments that really work?
- Topamax side effects
- Are Topamax side effects really worth the trouble? Learn about the side effects of topiramate, especially as they relate to migraine patients taking the drug...
- Headache Whiplash Injuries
- Tell me about headache whiplash injuries - what exactly causes them, and how can they be treated? Here is an introduction to whiplash headaches...
- Botox Headache Injection
- Thinking about getting a Botox headache injection? What can you expect from the treatment? Find out more about Botox for headache and the procedure here...
- Migraine Variant - does this describe you?
- Once in a while a patient is diagnosed with migraine variant. But what is it? And is this a valid diagnosis?
- Basilar Artery Migraines (BAM)
- Recent research has drastically changed our understanding of Basilar Artery Migraines. So drastically that we've had to rename them! Read more about these strange migraine attacks...
- Chiari 1 Malformation: description, symptoms and treatment
- What is Chiari 1 Malformation (or Chiari I Malformation)? How does it develop, and what is the treatment?
- Natural Migraine Relief: the Best Strategies
- There are many types of natural migraine relief, and many you don't often hear about. There may be more than one that will work well for you...
- Migraine Triggers: Track them Down
- Getting migraine attacks, but you don't know what's starting them? Time to take a closer look at migraine triggers - what uncommon and common migraine triggers are, and how to find them...
- Understanding Complicated Migraine
- It seems the term complicated migraine still gets thrown around quite a bit. The truth is, it does migraine sufferers a disservice. Complicated migraine can refer to too many dissimilar things...
- Finding a Good Migraine Specialist
- It can be a challenge to find a migraine specialist, but too often people are putting up with doctors who really know very little about migraine. Here are some tips to help you...
- Migraine Medications: So many choices
- An introduction to the many options of migraine medications that migraine patients have today. Migraine treatment is no longer a one-size-fits-all!
- Coenzyme Q10 and Migraine
- Is Coenzyme Q10 an effective treatment for migraine? Are there any dangers to taking COQ10 for migraine? Let's look at the latest research into Coenzyme Q10 and its place in the treatment of migraines
- Botox Treatment For Migraines
- Is Botox treatment for Migraines something you should try? Here's the essential information you need to know before making a decision about Botox...
- Depakote Migraine Treatment - is it for me?
- If you're considering Depakote Migraine treatment, there are some things you need to know. In this article we'll discuss the uses of Depakote for Migraine, and some of the risks...
- Cluster Headache Symptoms
- How are Cluster Headache symptoms different from the symptoms of other headaches? How can I recognize when I have a Cluster Headache?
- Ocular Migraine Stroke Connection
- Is there an ocular migraine stroke connection? What is new research telling us about ocular migraine and its relationship to stroke?
- Migraine Headache Aura
- Is Migraine Headache Aura dangerous? What does it tell us about the brain? Can migraine aura symptoms help us treat migraine?
- Ocular Migraine without Headache
- If you're suffering from ocular migraine without headache, you need to get a proper diagnosis in order to get the migraine treatment most likely to work...
- Headache home remedies - what you can do now to relieve your headache!
- Want the best headache home remedies? Do-it-yourself fast relief from using things you probably have around the house right now...