Getting to the bottom of why, can be quite challenging. If you think about it, it’s strange that headaches even exist. The brain itself can’t feel pain, so what gives? Experts now think surrounding tissues, brain chemicals, blood vessels, and nerves produce the pain signals.
Statistics now say a lot more than they did 20 years ago about the cause of headaches, says Charles Flippen, MD, associate professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Areas of the brain are generating pain, but we don’t have the whole picture.
Here are a few different types of headache types, which one do you experience?
Much like overuse of nasal decongestants can lead to a perpetually stuffy nose, rebound headaches are chronic headaches caused by medication overuse.
This is the most common type of headache, which usually feels like a constant aching or pressure—rather than throbbing—on both sides of the head or at the back of the head and neck.
There are dental-related conditions that can trigger headaches or face pain.
These one-sided headaches are short-lived (15 minutes to 3 hours), but excruciating. These are so painful they’re sometimes called the suicide headache.
Migraines are severe headaches that are three times as common in women as men. The cause isn’t clear, but genes do play a role, and brain cell activity may affect blood vessel and nerve cell function.
You love your coffee, but it can be a cruel companion. For example, if you have two cups of coffee every day at 9 a.m., and then miss those cups when you oversleep on Saturday—boom!—you can end up with a caffeine withdrawal headache.
Early morning headaches
If you’re waking up in pain, there are several possible culprits. Migraines are more likely to happen in the morning, or medication may be waning in your body as you sleep, which causes a rebound headache.
Chronic daily headaches
These could be caused by overuse of pain medications (ie, rebound headaches), head injury, or in rare cases, meningitis or tumors.