8 Common Causes of Headaches

By Fiorella M. | Updated: Jun 18, 2020


A headache is defined as pain experienced in any region of the head. A headache is caused when the blood vessels in the scalp constantly dilate and contract. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and they are characterized by dull, aching pain. Headaches can also refer to unbearable migraines, which are described by severe pain that can last several hours or several days. There are many causes of headaches, so it is important to be aware of them in order to avoid headaches. Keep reading to learn more.

8 Common Causes of Headaches

Common Causes

Triggers depend on each individual, but there are several common factors that can contribute to headaches. These include:



Stress is one of the leading causes of headaches. Letting stress build up - whether at work or at home - is unhealthy and is a direct cause of headaches and fatigue. It is important to try and manage stress. Good ways to do this are to practice yoga or meditation, taking a bath at night, reading, or listening to soothing music.



Forgetting to drink plenty of water is a crucial mistake many adults make. Dehydration is one of the primary causes of headaches. It is helpful to keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times to remind you to stay hydrated.


Skipping meals

Blood sugar levels drop sharply when you skip meals, which often leads to headaches. It is vital to eat healthy, balanced meals and snacks every three to four hours to stay alert and prevent headaches.


Certain foods

Processed meats (e.g., hot dogs, lunch meat, and bacon) are loaded with nitrites and sodium are known to cause headaches in some people. Other foods that often trigger headaches include aged cheese, red wine, fast food, and sugary snacks.



Caffeine dehydrates the body very quickly, which is a leading cause of headaches. That being said, drinking too many cups of coffee or tea can induce headaches. Conversely, if you stop drinking caffeine abruptly, you will likely experience withdrawal headaches. It is recommended to wane off of it, cutting down to one or two cups of coffee a day.


Poor posture

Slouching over a desk all day at work or at home allows pressure to build up in the neck and shoulders, causing headaches. It is important to try and get up and walk around every so often, and practice good posture while sitting.


Lack of sleep

Getting enough sleep every night is essential to feeling your best and for maintaining overall health. Lack of sleep is a common cause of headaches. The average adult should get between seven to eight hours of sleep every night.


Inactive lifestyle

Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to numerous health problems, such as chronic headaches, obesity, depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.

Headaches can range from mild to severe and interfere with everyday life and relationships. Stress, dehydration, and lack of sleep and exercise are all common causes of headaches. It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a proper diet, and to avoid certain foods in order to prevent headaches. Staying active, getting plenty of sleep, and eating frequent, healthy meals and snacks can help ease headaches.

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