The surprising causes of headaches you NEVER knew

I don't think that there is anyone who doesn't suffer from a headache every now and then. In fact, according to the National Headache Foundation, about 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches every year.

The sudden onset of an extreme and prolonged headache can often be one of the health signs and symptoms that you shouldn't ignore. But in most cases, we have just learned to live with the fact that sometimes our heads hurt. I just never realized that I might actually have some control over whether I get a headache or not.

When I saw this list of crazy things that can cause headaches, I knew I just had to share it. Some of them I was already familiar with, like stress, but others were completely surprising.

I try to remain aware of what is going on with my body, like keeping an eye out for symptoms of a stroke. Now I'll be able to take control of things before a headache even strikes.

Were you as surprised by some of these crazy causes of headaches as I was? Let us know in the comments!


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Weather can have a large impact on your headaches. Heat and humidity are most often associated with headaches, but rain or changes in barometric pressure can also be the culprits.

According to WebMD, "When the weather changes, so does your chance of getting a migraine. Whether it's a heat wave or a cold snap, the change can trigger a headache in some people."

Wearing sunglasses and avoiding direct sun can make the difference between a pounding headache or not.


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When you feel yourself getting a headache, you should always consider whether or not you have been getting enough water. Dehydration can be a large cause.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration can cause headaches when they "activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head."

As a solution, they recommend that women drink at least 9 cups of fluids a day and that men drink 13. Staving off dehydration can help stave off that pesky headache.


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Do you seem to get a headache every time your in-laws come to town? This shouldn't be too surprising, as stress is one of the main causes of headaches.

According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Health Psychology, stress was listed as the most common cause of migraine pain.

While doctors aren't quite positive about why the nerves in your brain relay pain messages when you are stressed out, they recommend de-stressing with activities such as yoga or relaxing outdoors.

Red Wine

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Red wine can definitely cause a headache...and not just from the obvious hangover. Red wine contains something called tyramine, which is known to affect the body's blood vessels, causing headaches.

Neurologist Dr. Mia Minen writes that tyramine might not be the only reason. She thinks that polyphenols in red wine "may interfere with serotonin metabolism in the brain." Translation: more headaches.

The National Headache Foundation recommends limiting your drinking to only one beverage to cut back on the head pain.

Strenuous Exercise

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Working out can have many positive effects on your body. But performing an exercise that is too strenuous can have negative effects as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Exercise headaches occur during or after sustained, strenuous exercise. Some activities associated with exercise headaches include running, rowing, tennis, swimming and weightlifting."

They do note that these kinds of headaches are usually harmless. The best way to combat them is to be aware of which activities may be increasing your pain levels.


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

It shouldn't come as a surprise that your sense of smell is directly connected to your brain. So naturally, this can turn strong smells into triggers for headaches.

According to WebMD, "Powerful smells — even nice ones — can set off migraines in many people. It's not clear why this happens, but the odors may stir up your nervous system."

Make sure to pay attention to any smells that seem to cause a headache. They tend to be potent smells like perfumes, paint, or even flowers.

Bad Posture

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

It can often be hard to sit up straight all day. But slouching or having poor posture can be a significant cause of headaches.

According to WebMD, slouching will "build pressure in your head and neck muscles." This pressure can quickly lead to painful headaches.

If you work in an office all day, it is crucial to utilize a chair with good back support. Also, be careful not to cradle the phone between your shoulder and ear, as this increases negative pressure.

Caffeine Withdrawal

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Withdrawal headaches can be extremely common with people who decide to quickly wean themselves off of coffee.

The National Headache Foundation writes that caffeine withdrawal will usually occur "after consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine per day for at least 2 weeks."

So what is a person to do? Slowly decreasing your caffeine intake, rather than stopping abruptly, can make the difference between a withdrawal headache or not.

Cured/Smoked Meats

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

It might come as quite a surprise that cured and smoked meats can be headache triggers.

According to WebMD, these kinds of meats "often contain tyramine and food additives such as nitrites, which may trigger headaches in some people."

These types of meats include cold cuts. And while they won't affect everyone, you should cut back on your processed meat intake if you find your head throbbing.


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Could cheese really be the culprit behind your headaches? Well, it depends. If you have been eating aged cheeses, there is a strong possibility.

Similar to red wine, cheeses like cheddar, blue, and Swiss contain tyramine, which can cause headaches by affecting the blood vessels in the body. The National Headache Foundation suggests sticking to American or low-fat processed cheese if aged cheese gives you a headache.

As with red wine, moderation in your cheese consumption can also be extremely helpful in keeping the tyramine from affecting you so drastically.

Pulling Your Hair

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

The pulling of your hair and unnecessary pressure on the head can be quick causes of headaches.

According to the Mayo Clinic, headaches can be caused by "pressure from tight-fitting headgear, such as a helmet or goggles." And WebMD writes, "A tight ponytail may strain the tissue in your scalp, leading to a hairdo headache."

Letting your hair down may quite literally be the best way to avoid these types of headaches.

Bright or Flashing Lights

LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

While there have been conflicting studies done on the matter, most people who say they suffer from headaches claim they are worsened by bright or flashing lights.

In fact, nearly 85 percent of people with migraines say they are very sensitive to light when suffering an attack. The connection between lights and the brain is not entirely unexplored. Seizure victims quite often fall prey to seizures as a result of flashing strobe lights.

Short of wearing sunglasses around the house, the best way to avoid headaches from bright or flashing lights is to avoid them altogether.

While this list is not all-encompassing, it is vitally important in detecting the cause of minor headaches. As always, if you are experiencing serious or sudden pain, you should see a doctor immediately.

Which of these headache causes was most surprising to you? Let us know in the comments!

Please SHARE this vital information that can help prevent headaches.

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