A headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Serious causes of headaches are rare. Most people with headaches can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax, and sometimes by taking medications.
The most common type of headache is likely caused by tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. This type of headache is called tension headache:
- It may be related to stress, depression, anxiety, a head injury, or holding your head and neck in an abnormal position.
- It tends to be on both sides of your head. It often starts at the back of the head and spreads forward. The pain may feel dull or squeezing, like a tight band or vice. Your shoulders, neck, or jaw may feel tight or sore.
A migraine headache involves severe pain. It usually occurs with other symptoms, such as vision changes, sensitivity to sound or light, or nausea. With a migraine:
- The pain may be throbbing, pounding, or pulsating. It tends to begin on one side of your head. It may spread to both sides.
- Migraines may be triggered by foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses, or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep, and alcohol.