Why Do Headaches Happen?

Each year, roughly one in six Americans sees a doctor for intense headaches. Despite the name, headaches are not literal pains in the head or brain. While the brain cannot feel actual pain, it signals whether other parts of the body experience distress. These signals come from swollen or tightened blood vessels, muscles, and nerves that surround the head and neck and continually respond to environmental stimuli, including pressure, allergens, and viruses. Knowing why headaches happen helps determine if emergency care is necessary.


Headaches Versus Migraines

Common tension headaches involve squeezing of the head and neck muscles. Typically, discomfort presents itself as a constant, dull pressure on the back, sides, and front of the head and often results from stress. Illness such as colds and the flu frequently accompany sinus headaches. Sufferers may find relief through proper hydration, over-the-counter pain medicines, and abandoning popular stimulants like caffeine. However, headaches may start as a form of withdrawal when someone kicks a longtime coffee habit, or begins a certain medication.


The mechanics behind migraines are the same as those that cause tension headaches. However, migraines are much more painful, producing a sharp, throbbing sensation that usually last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days. Unlike tension headaches, migraines actively interfere with the sufferer’s life, making school and professional activities difficult.


What Causes Headaches?

Numerous factors explain why headaches happen, including:


  • Music played at high volumes.
  • Heavy caffeine consumption.
  • Sudden caffeine withdrawal.
  • Dehydration.
  • Inadequate eating and/or sleep.
  • Head injuries.
  • Prolonged exposure to computer and television screens.


The following illnesses and conditions often occur alongside headaches:


  • Flu.
  • Cold.
  • Sinus and ear infections.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Strep throat.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Aneurysms.*
  • Stroke.*
  • Meningitis.*


*The last 3 conditions demand prompt medical treatment and cause death if left unattended. Whether headaches are new or an ongoing nuisance in someone’s life, severe discomfort and symptoms that seem unusual justify a trip to the emergency room.


Intense headaches call for proper medical examination to rule out possibilities of severe illness and begin treatment of formally diagnosed conditions. My Emergency Room 24/7 implements modern, best practices that initiate solid, long-term treatment plans for those who suddenly suffer from severe and chronic headaches or migraines. Should you experience unusual, unfamiliar symptoms accompanying headaches or migraines, and are located in or near San Antonio or San Marcos, visit our emergency care center. If you are located within the San Antonio area, call us at (210) 272-7199. If you are located near or within San Marcos, call (512) 392-7800.