What Causes Headaches?

What causes headaches

What’s the underlying issue that causes headaches? Back in the times of Ancient Greece, they saw headaches as powerful diseases. They would pray to Asclepius, the god of medicine, to take it away. 

When they received no help, doctors of that day would drill a small hole into their brains to drain it of the “infected blood.” Pretty crazy right? 

While doctors today are still learning about this age-long ailment, they’ve chosen to classify headaches into two categories: primary and secondary headaches.

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are not caused by or a reaction to a prior disease, condition, or injury. Rather, the headache is the condition. However, the origins of primary headaches are still unknown to doctors and medical scientists. 

There are three types of primary headaches: Migraines, cluster headaches, and the most common of the three, tension headaches.

Migraines have a squeezing, constricting feeling around the head, lasting anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days. Cluster headaches are usually behind your eye(s), and release stabbing, burning bursts of pain. Tension headaches surround your head, creating that painful pulsing sensation most often associated with headaches. 

Scientists have theories of what causes headaches, specifically primary ones. However, there are no definite conclusions. 

Secondary Headaches

These headaches are usually the side effect of another condition. Secondary headaches are usually caused by dehydration, head or neck injuries, or caffeine withdrawal. 

For example, an often cause for a secondary headache is a sinus infection. When the sinuses are infected, the immune system’s response to the infection is to heat up the area in order to flush out the infection. This heat will cause some swelling in the nasal cavities and the head, causing headaches. 


What can be done to help alleviate these headaches? Most secondary headaches require anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Advil, or Aspirin. 

Reliable and dependable treatments for the other two primary headaches are still in the works, as neurologists are still trying to understand the universal causes of them. 

The answer to the question “What causes headaches?”, is still not fully known. However, scientists are working to find answers and provide treatments for these often annoying and life-halting ailments.