Headaches can be infuriating for two reasons: there is the pain itself and the task of trying to establish the cause. Most people resolve to treat their symptoms without ever getting down to the bottom of it. However, by establishing the cause, you can take steps to reduce your risk.
It may come as a surprise to hear that checking the weather forecast can help.
Bad weather events can trigger headaches and the NHS has highlighted four such events.
“If you’re prone to getting headaches, you could find that grey skies, high humidity, rising temperatures and storms can all bring on head pain,” explains the health body.
As it explains, pressure changes that cause weather changes are thought to trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain.
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Other causes of headaches
Several lifestyle factors have been shown to be behind headaches.
For example, eating certain foods may trigger headaches so cutting down on them may provide relief.
“It could be just one type of food — like beans or nuts — or many foods, such as avocados, bananas, cheese, chocolate, citrus, herring, dairy products, and onions,” explains Harvard Health.
According to the health body, alcohol is a common cause of headaches.
“For some people, a few ounces of red wine are all it takes to provoke a headache, although any kind of alcohol can be a trigger,” it explains.
“It’s not clear if the alcohol itself is to blame or if another component in the drink causes the problem.”
Other possible causes include:
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Lack of sleep.
When is a headache a sign of a serious underlying condition?
Chronic daily headaches may suggest something serious is up.
According to the Mayo Clinic, conditions that have headaches as a symptom include:
- Inflammation or other problems with the blood vessels in and around the brain, including stroke
- Infections, such as meningitis
- Intracranial pressure that’s either too high or too low
- Brain tumour
- Traumatic brain injury.
Medication overuse can also trigger headache.
“This type of headache usually develops in people who have an episodic headache disorder, usually migraine or tension type, and take too much pain medication,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
It adds: “If you’re taking pain medications — even over-the-counter — more than two days a week (or nine days a month), you’re at risk of developing rebound headaches.”