Feeling a sharp, stabbing pain in your head can be alarming, and although everyone experiences headaches at some point, it can be easy to jump to the worst conclusion when you don’t know what’s going on. Headaches can be caused by a number of factors and much of the time they are not a sign of serious illness. To dispel misconceptions around this uncomfortable phenomenon we’ve delved deeper into the world of headaches to separate fact from fiction.
Table of Contents
- 1. Fiction: a headache means you have a brain tumour
- 2. Fiction: a migraine is just an “extra strong” headache
- 3. Fiction: Sugar can give you a headache
- 4. Fiction: Quit coffee to get rid of headaches
- 5. Fact: women are more prone to headaches than men
- 6. Fact: a headache can point to an underlying condition
- When to worry
1. Fiction: a headache means you have a brain tumour
This is probably the most common fear experienced by someone with head pain. Although brain tumours may cause headaches, experiencing a headache does not mean that you have a tumour. If you have a sudden increase in headaches then it is wise to get it checked out with your doctor, but the vast majority of headaches are not connected to brain tumours in any way.
2. Fiction: a migraine is just an “extra strong” headache
Headaches and migraines have a lot in common – pain and discomfort being the most obvious example – but are not the same thing. While headaches are often the result of fatigue, stress or dehydration, migraines are thought to be caused by a different neurological system and usually involve other symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity. Migraines can also last for much longer than regular headaches.
3. Fiction: Sugar can give you a headache
While you might get a headache after a sugar binge, it is usually caused by the drop in blood sugar and not the initial sugar spike. Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is a common cause of headaches, which are often accompanied by light-headedness, weakness and increased heart rate.
4. Fiction: Quit coffee to get rid of headaches
It is a fact that excess caffeine can contribute to headaches, but the solution is not to cut it out cold turkey. Doing so will only trigger another, probably more intense headache – so if you do think your coffee consumption is too high, rather wean yourself off it slowly. As an advantage, you’ll sleep better at night too.
5. Fact: women are more prone to headaches than men
There isn’t one clear explanation for this imbalance, but it is true that women experience more headaches than men. It is thought that changing hormones might be the trigger – things like menstruation, menopause and taking oral contraceptives could all play a part.
6. Fact: a headache can point to an underlying condition
Headaches might appear to be situated in your head but don’t necessarily originate there. Many conditions can result in headaches, including gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease and IBS. Paradoxically, there is a subtype of migraine – abdominal migraine – that can present as stomach pain (sometimes with no other symptoms).
When to worry
You can rest assured that the vast majority of headaches aren’t a sign of serious disease. Even so, there are times when it’s a good idea to get some professional input so you can register to play online with peace of mind. If you suddenly experience more headaches than usual, if they’re disabling, or if they’re accompanied by other symptoms like fever, it’s best to get checked out.