8 Unusual Causes Of Headaches You Should Know About!

causes of headache

When you have a headache, it becomes difficult to concentrate at work or carry out your day-to-day activities. All you want to do is hit the bed. Most often than not, a headache could be due to household pollutants, stress or lack of sleep, which can be taken care of. But if it lasts longer or turns into a pounding pain that’s when you start to worry. A headache could be a sign of an underlying condition that could range from a migraine to a brain tumor. Hence, it is wise to consult your doctor right away if it comes on suddenly or if it happens more frequently to rule out any disease. However, there are certain factors which could be blamed for regular headaches. Here are some of the surprising causes of a headache you might not be aware of!

8 Surprising Causes of Headaches

1. Weather: Temperature changes can make a person more vulnerable to a headache. Changes in the atmospheric pressure or exposure to heat waves can trigger a headache[1]. Although you cannot do anything to change the weather, all you can do is to protect yourself from the harsh sun rays with the help of sunglasses, scarf, and cap.

2. Hair accessories: Most of us are aware of the fact that hairstyling products and tight hairstyles can lead to hair fall. But did you know that it can also take a toll on your head? Yes, a tight ponytail or tight braids may strain the tissues in the scalp leading to a headache[2]. The same is the case with the use of headbands and tight-fitting hats. If this is the cause of a headache, you can prevent it by letting your hair down and wearing the ponytail more loosely tied.

3. Pollution: Air pollution be it outdoors or indoors can lead to a headache. There are numerous factors that can contribute to indoor air pollution right from dust and cooking fumes to mattresses. These include a wide range of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter of less than or equal to 10 micrometer (PM10) and gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide[3]. All these pollutants when inhaled can trigger respiratory and neurological complications. Excess of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide can cause headache. So to deal with indoor air pollutants, it is wise to invest in an air purifier which will help you breathe clean air.

4. Skipping meals: An empty stomach can trigger a headache. However, skipping meals can also put you at risk of a headache[4]. This is because, if you do not eat and stay hungry for a long time, there is a dip in the blood glucose level, which triggers a headache. So, ensure you do not skip your meals, especially your breakfast (as it is the first meal of the day) to keep you going and prevent a headache induced by hunger. Also, avoid eating sweets or foods rich in sugar as it can cause a sudden increase in blood glucose level and then drop it even further, causing more complications.

5. Poor posture: Do you spend most of your time staring at a computer screen that is too high or too low? Do you slouch when chatting with a friend in a chair with no lower back support? If yes, then blame your poor posture for frequent headaches. Slouching causes pressure to build up in the neck and shoulder muscles, which in turn affects the head muscles and lead to a headache[5]. Hence, always ensure your screen at your eye level and avoid bending too low when using a phone to text. Moreover, looking at a screen for maximum time in a day can strain the eyes, which in turn can trigger a headache. So it wise to limit your screen time for overall health.

6. Smoking: It goes without saying that smoking, be it active or passive, can trigger a headache. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which when inhaled causes the blood vessels to become narrow[6]. When smoked indoors, it can not only causes indoor air pollution but also affects everyone in the family including kids, elderly and pregnant women. Due to reduced supply of blood to the brain, it causes a cluster headache, which are extremely painful headaches that occur on one side of the head. It not only causes a headache, respiratory problems and heart disease but also increases your risk of cancer. The only effective way to lower your risk of a headache and other health complications associated with tobacco smoke is to quit smoking!

7. Dehydration: Water deprivation and dehydration can lead to the development of a headache. Moreover, it can impair concentration and increase irritability along with acting as a trigger for migraine and also prolong a migraine. A 2011 study[7] showed that increased intake of water reduced the severity of a headache in most individuals within 30 minutes to three hours.
Moreover, water intake was associated with reduced duration of a headache. Ensure you keep
a tab on your fluid intake by sipping water every few hours. You can also drink lemon water, coconut water, and soups to maintain your fluid balance.

8. Allergy: If you suffer from allergies or are allergic to any triggers such as indoor air pollutants, perfumes or food, the common symptoms include coughing and sneezing. However, allergies can also cause headaches[8]. This is because, allergy headaches occur due to swelling of the sinuses, which are the openings into the nasal passages. As a result, the sinuses get blocked, which builds up the pressure in the nearby areas, affecting the head as well. Hence, beware of your allergic triggers and ensure you breathe clean air by improving your indoor air quality with the use of an air purifier.

This article is sponsored by Honeywell Air Purifiers.


1. Prince PB, Rapoport AM, Sheftell FD, Tepper SJ, Bigal ME. The effect of weather on headache. Headache. 2004 Jun;44(6):596-602. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15186304

2.Blau JN. Ponytail headache: a pure extracranial headache. Headache. 2004 May;44(5):411-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15147248

3. Ghorani-Azam A, Riahi-Zanjani B, Balali-Mood M. Effects of air pollution on human health and practical measures for prevention in Iran. J Res Med Sci. 2016 Sep 1;21:65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5122104/

4. Iliopoulos P, Damigos D, Kerezoudi E, et al Trigger factors in primary headaches subtypes: a
cross-sectional study from a tertiary centre in Greece. BMC Res Notes. 2015 Sep 1;8:393. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553925/

5. Madsen BK, Søgaard K, Andersen LL, Skotte J, Tornøe B, Jensen RH. Neck/shoulder function in tension-type headache patients and the effect of strength training. J Pain Res. 2018 Feb 23;11:445-454. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827678/

6. Payne TJ, Stetson B, Stevens VM, Johnson CA, Penzien DB, Van Dorsten B. The impact of cigarette smoking on headache activity in headache patients. Headache. 1991 May;31(5):329-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1860793

7. Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

8. Gryglas A. Allergic Rhinitis and Chronic Daily Headaches: Is There a Link? Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2016 Apr;16(4):33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4762930/

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