The top 5 causes of headaches

The 5 main causes of headaches include stress, lack of sleep, loud noise, and alcohol and caffeine consumption.  


Stress (Anxiety)


Stress not only causes acne, it causes headaches as well.  We live in a world characterized by daily stress.  Stress caused by work, family, healthy issues, etc.  However, stress actually makes things worse.  It lowers your body's immune system, clouds your mind, and for some people, it makes them completely nonfunctional.  


Stress is a constant component of the average person’s life.  It doesn't just appear one day and disappear the next.  It remains constant at varying levels.  This explains chronic stress headaches.  


The exact mechanics behind stress and headaches is unknown.  We do know that stress causes the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System.  This is a part of the nervous system that becomes activated when a person becomes frightened or worried or just plain stressed out.  What happens with stress is that it activates the system, and if constant, the Sympathetic Nervous System stays constant as well.  This causes major tiring of that part of the nervous system which ages it and makes it less able to handle illnesses.


Lack of Sleep quotes Jason D. Rosenberg, MD, director of Johns Hopkins Headache Center saying that, "Poor sleep increases the body's stress response.”  Lack of sleep is extremely harmful to one’s body and others.  People get in car accidents daily for lack of sleep.  Similarly, it’s a wreck within the body of someone who does not receive enough sleep.  


Sleep is a time for “repair and repose:” the time where people heal from injuries and “reboot the system.”  The exact link between sleep and headaches is unknown; however, studies have proved the connection between the two.  In one study with people who have migraines, half affirmed that sleep disturbances led to their headaches.  Meanwhile, those who received 6 or more solid hours of sleep had much less headaches and those who received less than 6 or more solid hours of sleep had many headaches.  


Loud Noise


Loud noise both amplifies and causes headaches.  It is commonly noted as a source of headaches by both men and women.  For someone with headaches, loud noise amplifies the intensity because headaches cause perception of sound to amplify.  This makes noise seem louder.  Research on headaches and noise indicates that they make it so that there is a deficiency in how sound is suppressed.  Also indicated is that these symptoms may be a result of a problem with a calcium channel found in both the brain and inner ear.  




Caffeine is the proverbial “double-edged sword.”  It helps people get rid of migraines in certain cases.  There's even a type of migraine called a hypnic headache where people are actually told by their physician’s to drink coffee to alleviate the symptoms.  However, caffeine may cause headaches as well.  


Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the brain, but then they re-expand afterwards.  This is what causes the headaches.  Withdrawal of caffeine from every-day coffee drinkers leads to headaches.  So does too much caffeine.  It’s like overdosing on medicine.  




Alcohol triggers headaches when you have drunk more than your body can metabolize.  Ethanol, made of fermenting sugars, is found in alcohol.  This ethanol wreaks havoc in the average person’s body.  


One problem is when the ethanol is absorbed into the stomach of the person who drank alcohol.  This ethanol enters the bloodstream and eventually makes its way to the brain, kidneys, liver, etc.  Ethanol suppresses and depresses certain brain functions and causes dehydration.  Because of this, there is decreased blood flow and pressure to the brain by dilated blood vessels to the brain.  A headache and severe pain is the result.  Some people actually do not experience the headache until the following morning when ethanol levels fall.  


Another problem with alcohol is the presence of histamine and tyramine.  They mess up the brain chemicals and cause headaches.  

Headaches occur due to a wide range of reasons.  These 5, however, seem to be the most threatening and imminent.