What Causes Headaches? 5 Triggers You Should Know

Everyone gets headaches, but some people get headaches more often than others. Why? It turns out that some people simply are more sensitive to certain triggers or encounter potential headache triggers more often. The good news is if you know the causes of headaches, you have a better chance of relieving them more quickly or preventing them in the first place.

Here are five causes of headaches and what to do to prevent or relieve them:

1. Dehydration

Dehydration—even mild dehydration—is a common cause of headaches. This is why relief can often come just by drinking a cup or two of water after a headache begins. The headache many feel after alcohol consumption often is a result of dehydration. Intense exercise can also cause a headache—from exertion or excessive sweating. The body needs to stay in balance and a headache is often the body’s way of telling us it is out of balance.

Since dehydration headaches can be tough to distinguish from other headaches, simply drink a good amount of water and see if the headache goes away. If the pain remains, your headache is most likely caused by something else.

2. Food Sensitivities

Have you ever noticed a headache coming on soon after eating certain foods? If so, like many other people, you may have food sensitivities. Don’t assume this right away, though. Start tracking your headaches—write down what you ate or drank before the headache occurred. Doing this helps you find—or rule out—a pattern that can help you and your doctor determine the cause. For example, if you get a headache every time you eat bacon or hot dogs, your body may be reacting to the preservatives found in cured and processed meats. Read “5 Foods That Might Be Causing Your Headache” to learn more.

3. Poor Posture

The way we sit, stand, work and scroll through our phones can all contribute to causing a headache. This type of headache is typically a tension headache. It arises due to muscle contractions, stress and strain in the head and neck area. The best way to prevent this type of headache is to pay attention to your posture as much as possible.

Staring at a computer screen, driving for long distances and looking down at our phones repeatedly or for long periods of time are common stresses that can cause headaches. The key is to take breaks and put yourself in a position where you aren’t straining your neck to look down. Put your phone on a stand in front of you or hold it more at eye level, align your computer screen properly and try to stay relaxed with good posture while sitting or driving.

4. Certain Medications & Hormones

If you notice headaches after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor right away. The headache may be a side effect of the drug you’re taking. Your doctor can tell you if it’s a common symptom that will go away or if you need to switch medications.

For women, the hormone estrogen can cause headaches. Changes in hormone levels often result in changes in mood, anxiety levels, pain sensitivity and headaches, even migraines. If you notice headaches that come at the same part of your menstrual cycle each month, that is most likely a period-related or estrogen-related headache. Your doctor may recommend taking birth control pills to help prevent headaches or simply taking over-the-counter pain relief like BC® Original, which contains aspirin and caffeine to target headaches effectively.

5. Noise and Light

Our senses are connected to our brain, so too much stimulation of certain senses can affect the brain and cause a headache. Working under noisy conditions (such as at a construction site, in a factory or even in a school with children) can cause headaches. In some situations, you may be able to use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to dampen the noise. In other cases, you may want to listen to soft music or seek complete silence on your breaks.

Lighting at work and at home can also be a contributing factor to headaches, especially light that is too bright or too dim, as well as fluorescent lighting. At home, you have more control over changing the types and brightness of the lamps and lighting fixtures. At work, you may want to have a maintenance worker help you make adjustments, or bring in lighting from home that you know doesn’t trigger your headaches.

Finding Relief

For all of these types of headaches and more, you may find quick relief by taking BC® Original or BC® Cherry as directed. Because they come in convenient, on-the-go sealed stick packs, you can slip packets in your pocket, purse, backpack or briefcase and take them anywhere you need to go.

A sudden headache that is more intense than any you’ve ever felt before can be a sign of a serious medical issue and needs immediate attention. To be safe, call your doctor if your headache is severe and concerning.