Why there are various cases of headaches, the most common recurring headache is the tension headaches, which feels like tightened muscles around the head, neck and shoulders and can last for several minutes or even days. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the skull or the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers).
Migraines headaches are more likely to affect just one side of the head and may be preceded by changes in mood, appetite, bowel habit and/or drowsiness, as well as visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzagging lines. They are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. They are usually relieved by sleep and last from half an hour to several hours.
Common triggers for tension headaches include postural problems, anxiety, stress, fatigue, emotional strain, depression, loud noises, bright lights and prolonged reading. Symptoms from food sensitivities may start about 30 minutes to several hours after eating the offending food, which may explain why some people get these headaches while sleeping. Common food triggers include monosodium glutamate (MSG), some food dyes, tyramine (a substance found in aged cheeses, red wine, beer and overripe fruit), pickled foods, some processed meats and caffeine from coffee, tea or chocolate.
Among the many triggers for migraines are dehydration, poor sleep patterns, irregular meals, some alcoholic beverages, chocolate, citrus and other foods, caffeine withdrawal, strong odours, loud noises, bright lights, hormonal fluctuations, stress, over-exercising and excessive screen time (computers, TV, gaming).
For tension headaches, in addition to judicious use of analgaesics, you can also try relaxation techniques, neck and shoulder massage, heat packs, creating better work-life balance, regular exercise and possibly counselling to assist with anxiety and emotional issues.
Although most headaches are not caused by an underlying medical problem, headaches can sometimes reflect serious conditions such as a brain tumor or bleeding inside the head. Talk to your doctor about your likely diagnosis. Keeping a headache diary will help you see which triggers precede your headaches. Prevention by identifying and avoiding your triggers is ideal, but not always possible. If not, your doctor may recommend medication.