A headache is a pain — figuratively and literally. Whether the pain is pulsating or splitting, headaches compromise the quality of your day. And it’s even more bothersome when your headache is constant and nagging pain. If that’s the case, your body might be saying something about your health.
There is a long list of culprits behind headaches — some of them are simple. Others might require an MRI scan (even without a UK GP referral). Determining the reason can help you uncover health issues that are at play.
Why Do Headaches Happen?
There remains no concrete explanation as to what happens in the skull during a headache. The most likely reason is that something triggered the blood vessels to swell, causing the nerves to stretch around them, triggering the pain signals.
There are three types of headaches: tension, cluster, and migraines.
What Does It Mean If You Experience Constant Headaches?
Headaches are considered chronic if they continue for 15 days or more per month, for at least three consecutive months. If you have been suffering from constant headaches for a week or two, however, that doesn’t mean you should discount your pain. See your doctor as soon as possible since your headache could be a sign of one (or more) of the following:
- Dehydration triggers headaches. The link between your water intake and headache remains unclear, but experts believe it has something to a drop in the blood volume, which occurs when you do not drink enough water. Lower blood volume means the brain is getting less oxygen.
- Unresolved stress contributes to your headache. Tension headaches occur when the muscles of your scalp and neck tense up, which is often your body’s physical response to anxiety and stress.
- Chronic disease. Headache is also a common side effect of chronic health conditions, such as lupus, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. Constant headaches, however, typically accompany other symptoms. For example, in lupus, other symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, and skin lesions.
- Anemia occurs when you lack red blood cells, which are in charge of transporting oxygen to tissues throughout your body. The condition can also bring on other symptoms, such as feelings of weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath — among others.
- Sinus infections. Sinus headaches aren’t often common. Most sinus-related headaches are migraines with sinus symptoms. If you are experiencing a recurring headache in your facial or sinus area, chances are it’s a tension headache or migraine.
- Hormonal issues (e.g., menstruation). During your period, your body’s estrogen rate drops, causing PMS-related headaches. Menstruation is one of the biggest culprits for women when they are on their period.
But it’s not just menstruation that can cause a drop in your estrogen levels. Both postpartum and perimenopause periods are marked by estrogen drops, which causes headaches. Pregnancy can also affect your estrogen levels, so your headache might worsen during this time.
If you are suffering from a recurring headache, do not brush it off. Instead, visit your doctor immediately to determine the cause of the throbbing pain in your head.