Everyday Care

Why Do I Always Have a Headache?

Why headaches happen, what you can do to prevent and treat them, and when you need to see a professional.

Getting through the day when you’re dealing with a headache can make it seem like the minutes are ticking backwards. According to The Journal of Headache and Pain, migraines and headaches are one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S., making this a concern for many. Research published in the journal Headache found that 1 out of every 6 Americans deal with recurring headaches, and the condition is more prevalent in women, impacting 1 in 5.If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, you don’t need to suffer in silence—or at all. Here’s a look at what causes headaches, how to make them go away, and how to prevent them in the first place.

Types of headaches

It’s impossible to completely banish headaches, especially if you’ve done something that might contribute to them (like getting a little too happy at happy hour). But headaches that seem to sprout up consistently aren’t normal. According to the International Headache Society, headaches that affect someone for 15 or more days a month are considered chronic headaches. When this happens, you should speak to a clinician. The type of headache you have may impact treatment, so it’s important to note how long your headaches last:

  • Headaches that last four hours or longer could be a migraine
  • Shorter headaches are often referred to as tension headaches

About 95% of headaches are migraines or tension headaches, according to a study published in the British Journal of Pain. Someone who deals with migraines experiences throbbing on one side of the head. This may worsen with lights or loud noises. Tension headaches happen when the neck or scalp becomes tense, and it feels like the head is contracting, some occur without this sensation as well.  If you’re taking pain medication for more than three days due to a headache or changing headache patterns, MedlinePlus recommends reaching out to a clinician. Importantly, a headache that shows up suddenly and is extremely painful needs to be addressed immediately. This could be a sign of an infection, brain swelling, an inflamed artery, or a spike in blood pressure that requires urgent care.

Finding relief at home

While it’s important to speak to a clinician about recurring headaches, there are things you can do at home to ease uncomfortable head pain and other headache symptoms. To get relief from a migraine or tension headache you can try:

  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Resting in a quiet room with a cool cloth over your forehead
  • Taking a soothing shower
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking
  • Taking other drugs as prescribed to prevent something called rebound headaches, which are a result of overusing certain pain medications

Strategies to prevent headaches

Most headaches are caused by triggers—an external or internal factor that sets off head and neck pain. When headaches do happen, take note of what you were doing before the pain started. This includes noting how much sleep you got the night before, what you’ve eaten (or not eaten) that day, how much water you have had to drink, and how long the headache lasted. According to MedlinePlus, some common lifestyle habits that can be adopted to ward off future headaches and migraines include:

  • Getting enough daily exercise
  • Managing stress levels through self-care and other techniques like yoga and meditation
  • Practicing good posture, including taking breaks to stretch throughout the day if you’re mostly desk bound
  • Getting your vision checked to make sure you’re not straining your eyes when reading
  • Staying hydrated
  • Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Logging enough quality shut-eye at night

Headaches can affect your quality of life, but they don’t have to. By understanding why headaches are happening to you in addition to managing your own personal triggers, you can reduce the number of headaches you experience and their severity.

Open the Amazon Care app and speak with a clinician today to get a hold on your headaches. They’ll be here to talk with you about your symptoms and suggest the best treatment options.

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