What causes headaches? There are three different types of headaches: migraine, cluster and tension. Scientists are continuing to work on understanding the causes of headaches as well as how to stop these headaches cold before the headaches stop you.
Migraines are a neurological disease that is caused by the blood vessels in the head expanding. This is contrary to other headaches, which can be caused by blood vessels narrowing. Migraines can run in families or be genetic in nature. In addition, women experience migraines more frequently than do men.
What causes the blood vessels to expand? The current thought is that chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, become imbalanced. This leads to blood vessel expansion. Serotonin helps control and regulate pain messages that run through the nervous system.
Migraine headaches are triggered by several different mechanisms. These mechanisms can include foods, stress and hormonal changes.
Unfortunately, preventative drugs can only reduce the amount of pain that you feel, reduce how frequently you have migraines and reduce the amount of time that you experience migraines. However, you can try to avoid the triggers that bring on your migraines. In addition, ask your doctor about whether regular exercise when you don’t have headaches can help prevent your migraines. This is an important question because if you exercise when you have a migraine, your headache may get worse.
What Causes Cluster Headaches?
If you feel like you have an ice pick stuck in your eye, you might have a cluster headache. Scientists have not pinpointed the exact causes of cluster headaches, although they have begun to focus their research at the hypothalamus, which controls our biological clocks. The thought is that since cluster headaches follow a regular pattern, the hypothalamus may be involved. In addition, hormones such as melatonin and cortisol may affect cluster headaches.
Like migraine headaches, you can’t prevent cluster headaches. Treatments include both short and long term medications, as well as surgery in severe instances.
What Causes Tension Headaches?
The exact causes of tension headaches remain unknown. Scientists think that changes in the levels of brain chemicals involved in helping nerves communicate may be the culprits. These chemicals include serotonin and endorphins.
Your physician may prescribe antidepressants or other medications to help prevent chronic tension headaches. In addition, your doctor may suggest biofeedback or relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to help prevent this type of headache.
Scientists are continuing to explore both headache prevention and treatments ranging from developing new medications to exploring natural remedies. The ultimate goal is to literally stop headaches before they start.