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Top 6 Reasons Why You Have a Headache, According to Harvard Medical School

Have you ever wondered what are the reasons why you have a headache?

You may have been wondering about the reasons why you have a headache, and you know you are not alone if that is the case. Headaches sometimes come at the most inconvenient times, and they can be so severe that they impair our ability to do any daily tasks. They are definitely not pleasant, and it can happen for a lot of us to have to take strong medications so that we can at least alleviate the pain if there is no hope to get rid of it completely.

There are a lot of theories that surround the reasons why you have a headache, and it can be hard to know which ones are just stories that have been assimilated by the community as facts and which ones are backed by science. However, we have made sure to bring over only the facts and reasons that have not only been researched but also scientifically proven as to why you are having a headache.

From genetic predisposition to hormone imbalances, from simple things such as smells and light to more complicated ones such as stress, there are many reasons why you have a headache. Today we invite you to explore the most commonly experienced reasons why people get headaches together and hopefully give you more insight into what could be causing you to have a headache!

Have you been dealing with headaches all your life? Let us know how you have dealt with them so far in the comments below!

reasons why you have a headache
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Believe it or not, one of the most commonly seen reasons why you have a headache has to do with your diet. What a lot of people find hard to believe is that not only are certain foods capable of triggering headaches, but there is a chance that you are having an extremely painful tension headache or even a migraine because you are hungry.

Yes, hunger has been scientifically proven to be capable of triggering headaches, and the worst thing about tension headaches and migraines is that you are feeling so bad you do not even feel like eating, so you cannot get rid of the cause!

What’s more, there is an extensive list of foods that can give you a headache, and some of them are so common that you may be surprised by them. The most common foods include the likes of bananas, citrus, dairy products, avocados, chocolate, herring, onions, and even cheese, combinations of these, or just a whole food group that does not agree with you, such as beans or nuts.

Generally speaking, processed foods are part of the long list of reasons why you have a headache due to the fact that some of them contain nitrates and nitrites and a lot of monosodium glutamate (MSG). Harvard researchers have discovered that yellow food dyes seem to be a common culprit as well. If you happen to have headaches after you eat, it is good to examine what you have eaten and try to pinpoint if any foods, in particular, may be the reason behind your headache!


Women are known to suffer from migraines way more often than men do. And research has shown that changes in estrogen are at play and may be one of the main reasons why you have a headache. For women, fluctuations in estrogen levels can end up causing excruciatingly painful migraines, and a lot of them may happen around the menstrual cycle if the woman is still young.

In the perimenopause period that a woman goes through, estrogen levels end up varying and fluctuating, even for women who have not dealt with them before.

If you are going through estrogen therapy, that may be the reason why you are having a headache, as it is known to be a migraine trigger.

What’s more, menopause comes with the added side effect of causing migraines in most women, though it varies from woman to woman!

If you have been dealing with migraines, no matter your gender, we recommend you look into getting a Migraine Ice Head Wrap. They are easily found on Amazon and affordable and they have been used by thousands to ward off migraines, headaches, and even stress!

reasons why you have a headache
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Lack of sleep

This is one of the most widely known reasons why you have a headache, yet not many people believe in it. If anything, this is one of those that some people consider to be myths, but they should actually pay more attention to it. It has been proven that lack of sleep can lead to both tension headaches and migraines, despite not knowing why this happens.

This is the reason why you may have a headache after a night when you haven’t slept or slept poorly and why you feel better after you have a nap. If the headache you have had seemed to be cured because you went and took a nap, then it may have been because you were extremely tired.


Yes, alcohol is one of the reasons you have a headache! However, you have to stop seeing only the hangover aspect, as we all know that if you drink too much, you are going to suffer the next day.

Research into this aspect has shown that it only takes a few ounces of red wine to enter your system before a headache is triggered, but it has also shown that any type of alcohol can have this effect. It can also happen that one glass of alcohol can trigger a migraine.

Despite scientists knowing that alcohol can trigger migraines and headaches, it is not yet clear why this happens—whether it is a component in the drink (like sugar) that, coupled with the alcohol, causes the issue, or if it is just the alcohol itself that ends up being the reason why you have a headache!

reasons why you have a headache
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Before you scoff at this reason why you are having a headache, think about the time when you were extremely stressed. More often than not, people who are under a lot of stress will experience headaches, and the reason behind them is easily explained by science.

When people are stressed, they tend to tense the muscles in their neck and shoulders without wanting to, which is a surefire way to get tension headaches! These tension headaches start in the muscles, and if you are getting them too often, it is because you are stressed, and tension in the muscles, which can cause pain in the neck and shoulder muscles, is then received by the brain as if the pain were located in the head.

What’s more, stress is known to also be one of the reasons why you have a headache and, even worse, why you are experiencing migraine episodes, so make sure you take every chance you can to relax and unwind!

Caffeine withdrawal

You’ve probably heard about this one before and even written it off as a myth! However, if your body has been getting used to getting a constant amount of caffeine in it, be it from tea or coffee, suddenly no longer getting it can trigger a migraine almost as fast as turning a switch!

Caffeine is one of the substances that cause the constriction of blood vessels, and without it, the blood vessels end up widening and building with each heartbeat. This, in turn, causes the throbbing or pounding feeling of migraines.

If you have cut down on your tea or coffee intake abruptly recently, know that those are some of the reasons why you have a headache every day!

Science can tell us a lot of things about the things that affect us most, beyond the reasons why you have a headache. Another thing that science taught us is how stress affects our bodies and why we should be careful when it comes to managing our stress levels. Read more about how stress affects us in this article!


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