Headaches are a condition we naturally associate with stress. But it turns out that the way they develop is often different from pain in other parts of the body. What’s more, diagnosing the issue can be a lot more challenging than you imagine.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some of the causes of constant headaches and what you might be able to do about them.
You Grind Your Teeth At Night
Teeth grinding – often called bruxism – is where you unconsciously clench your jaw while you sleep, injuring your teeth and the rest of your mouth.
Ear, nose, and throat specialists regularly deal with patients with this condition because of its effect on the surrounding tissue. For instance, people with severe bruxism can wind up damaging the sensitive machinery in their inner ears, leading to hearing loss.
Grinding your teeth at night causes tension in the muscles of the face. If this doesn’t disappear upon waking, it can lead to tension headaches – perhaps the most common variety. These occur when the muscles in the face refuse to relax, leading to pain.
There are a couple of ways to deal with bruxism. The most popular is to wear a mouthguard at night. This device is safe and prevents the jaw from closing, providing a kind of cushion to keep the teeth safe.
Often, the mouthguard will reduce the incidence of headaches by discouraging clenching in the first place.
You Have A Sight Issue
Another major cause of constant headaches is sight issues. If you are short-sighted and straining to see things in front of you, it increases blood supply to the eyes, leading to more muscle activation and soreness.
Sites like Eyeglasses.com provide information on how to solve problems like these. Often, the solution is simply to wear glasses or contact lenses that correct your vision. This puts an end to tension-causing headaches, adversely affecting your life.
Remember, if you have become used to straining to see things, you may not notice when you do it. And that can make your headaches seem even more mysterious.
You Have Sleep Apnea
Another cause of constant headaches is sleep apnea. This condition occurs when the airways become obstructed during sleep, causing you to snore heavily and even wake up to catch your breath.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that places tremendous stress on the body. During episodes, you may become short of breath for a long time. When that happens, the brain could become starved of oxygen, leading to the type of tension headaches some divers or mine workers get.
There are a couple of ways of dealing with sleep apnea. One is to wear a mouthguard at night that helps to keep the airway open. Another is to wear a constant respiratory pressure device, which pumps air in and out of the lungs and keeps the airway open.
Some people also find that changing their lifestyle can make a big difference in sleep apnea incidence. Symptoms tend to subside a little with diet and exercise. And in some people, they can disappear altogether and never come back.
You Are Using The Wrong Pillow
Believe it or not, the type of pillow you sleep on at night can also have a dramatic effect on headaches. Having the wrong pillow can create tension in the shoulders and neck, which can lead to pain in the head.
The solution here is pretty simple – change your pillow. But it may require a little experimentation. For instance, when you sleep at night, you might not be aware that your pillow is causing you discomfort. You may accept how you feel as normal, even if the pillow is the real source of discomfort.
Try a few different types of pillows to see which work best for you. Sometimes you’ll find that you wake up feeling more refreshed when you use a certain type of pillow compared to another. Other times, you may find that sleeping on the bare mattress reduces your pain substantially.
Your Blood Sugar Goes Too Low During The Night
If you know that none of the above problems affect you in the night, then the issue could be low blood sugar.
While other parts of the body can survive on alternative fuel sources, the brain always needs some sugar to function, even as you sleep. Sometimes, though, your blood sugar levels dip during the night, leading to a headache in the morning.
If you are experiencing this issue, try to improve the quality of your evening meal. Eating low glycemic index foods, such as beans, can help to keep blood sugar under control, preventing headaches from starting in the first place. Ideally, you want meals that slowly and consistently release energy over time. Try to avoid late-night sugary snacks as these can cause your blood glucose to first spike and then crash.
Your Painkillers Are Running Out
For some people, headaches are a part of life, usually because of a medical condition. If you notice that they start coming on strong, it could be because your painkillers have run out.
Usually, people with chronic headaches take medication before they go to bed. More often than not, this leads to a reduction in the amount of pain the patient experiences. However, the effect doesn’t usually last all night. Between 4 am, and 8 am, the drugs start wearing off, and the person can feel the pain again.
There’s not much you can do in this situation except either get slow-release mediation (which might be available from your doctor). Or you can take more painkillers during the night according to the instructions on the packet.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Failing to get enough sleep can have several harmful effects on your body. You don’t just feel tired when you burn the candle at both ends – it can also lead you to develop headaches.
Not getting enough sleep means that you often have to strain harder to concentrate on things. And this extra effort is often what causes common tension headaches. So instead of working at your computer as you usually would, you have to focus twice as hard to stay awake.
Therefore, the solution might be to reorientate your life so that you’re prioritizing sleep above other things in your schedule. We live in a culture where people view sleeping a lot as a sign of laziness. However, that is unfounded. What’s more, losing sleep is a kind of false economy. If you don’t give your body the rest it needs, you can’t function as well during the day.
You Have Migraines
Not all headaches are the same. So far, we have been talking about the causes of tension headache – the most common form. However, many people also experience migraines that emerge from a completely different source.
The causes of migraines aren’t entirely clear according to nhsinform.scot, but researchers think that food, changes in light, and the weather can all trigger an attack. If you have constant migraines, it can be debilitating – far worse than regular tension headaches. You may feel sick, and you might not be able to get out of bed.
The best way to combat the condition is to recognize the signs that a headache is coming and immediately take action. If you notice your vision starting to cloud, take a painkiller, and lie in a dark room. Some people find that smelling peppermint essential oil or wearing a cool flannel over the forehead also helps prevent symptoms from developing further.
Contributed blog post