What Causes Headache Pain?

There are actually many different causes of headache pain and several different kinds of headaches. In a purely mechanical sense, headaches are usually caused by pressure on nerves in the face or head. Sometimes this can happen because of an illness, something behavioral, or some kind of allergy. There are also headaches, such as migraines, that scientists are still trying to understand. Determining the causes of a person's headache pain can be important for doctors in deciding on a proper treatment.

One of the more common types of headaches is the tension headache. These are caused by muscles around the person's head cramping up and putting pressure on nerves. Tension headaches often happen because a person sits in an uncomfortable position all day, or they can occur because of stress.

Many viruses and bacterial infections can lead to headaches as well. In fact, when a person gets a fever, he will often have a headache at the same time. These headaches will usually go away on their own when the illness fades.

Migraine are one of the more mysterious and painful types of headache. In addition to severe pain, these can cause a person to have vision problems and nausea, among other things. The best guess scientists have about a cause for migraine headaches is a lack of serotonin in the brain, but there are many other competing theories. Cluster headaches may be even less understood than migraines.


A sinus headache happens because of pressure and inflammation inside the sinus cavities, usually resulting from mucus congestion or some kind of infection. The headache pain with a sinus headache will vary depending on which sinus is affected. For example, if the maxillary sinus is infected, people may have toothaches and pain in their cheekbones. Other sinuses cause pain behind the eyes or on top of the head.

Some kinds of headache pain can actually signify very serious problems. For example, many brain problems can lead to headache pain, including strokes and tumors. Some people also have headaches because of cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure.

Some experts suggest that avoiding certain behaviors can help limit headache pain. For example, exposure to chemicals or allergens can cause people to have headache pain, and in those cases, avoidance is often possible. Many behaviors have been associated with headaches, including sleeping too little and spending too much time looking at computer screens.



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