What causes chronic headaches

Causes of headache

Headaches arise outside the brain because the brain itself has no pain receptors and is therefore insensitive to pain. Rather, too much pressure on the meninges and the nerve tracts running through them can trigger pain. Reduced blood flow or inflammation of the meninges (meningitis) can also cause headaches.

The pain can be dull, oppressive, sometimes throbbing, and can extend over the entire head. Half of all headache sufferers suffer from this Tension headache. They are often very ambitious personalities who consciously or unconsciously put themselves and those around them under pressure. In the event of stress, emotional stress or a sudden change in weather, they react with tension that can trigger headaches. Too little sleep, too much alcohol and nicotine, lack of fluids, noise and bad air can all have the same effect. In women, hormone fluctuations also play a role. Mentally ill people who suffer from neuroses, psychoses or depression also repeatedly have headaches.

Many diseases can trigger headaches

In around 10% of cases, headaches have a physical cause. With bad teeth, ulcerated paranasal sinuses or an otitis media, the pain spreads to the head. Heart, thyroid, kidney and metabolic diseases as well as high blood pressure are often accompanied by headaches. Worn cervical vertebrae are also sometimes noticeable with a headache. Headaches that occur as a result of a concussion or meningitis are particularly serious. Meningitis can be triggered by bacteria such as meningococci, viruses such as the hemoinfluenza virus type b (Hib), fungi such as toxoplasmosis, but also by exposure to radiation. Brain tumors, on the other hand, only cause headaches when they press directly or indirectly on the meninges.

In around 40% of cases, headaches are caused by a short-term change in the external and internal head arteries. These are migraines and, in men, cluster headaches (Horton's syndrome).