Why do I have a Headache?
“Why do I have a headache?” I ask that question often. It’s not like I get headaches all the time, but when I do have a headache, my life stands still. Everything stops, and all I can rattle in my throbbing skull is “Why do I have a headache?” I hate to generalize, but I have a presumption that everyone hates headaches, and if you like them, that is probably something you don’t want to tell others. The causes of headaches are pretty well known: dehydration, stress, and maybe a tumor if you’re unlucky.
But what’s less known is what causes the pain of a headache and how to resolve a headache (at least better than downing a pill to get rid of it). I didn’t know before writing this article, but I will be glad to spread this knowledge to everyone out of the know and bring you into a life free of headaches. Unless you like headaches, then good for you, but I will be judging.
Before we get into all the science parts, why do we care about our heads so much? It sounds like a dumb question because it kind of is. Why do we care about our heads? That’s where all of our brain and eyes and ears and feelings and thoughts come from, pretty obvious. But, sadly, it wasn’t always that way. I don’t expect anyone reading this to be born or remember anything from before the 1960s, but if that’s you, more power to you. Before the ‘60s, the center of all human beings was the soul, which was obviously located in the heart. The soul, and therefore the heart, was seen as the primary operator of a human. The heart beating was the ultimate sign of life and the heart stopping was the final part of dying, the whole of the being ceasing to exist. This was until the first heart transplant happened in 1967.
Although we have been slicing and removing parts of the brain for centuries, we didn’t really take the brain seriously until the scientific community, and then society as a whole, identified the brain as the center of all human functioning. An ancient remedy for a headache was to literally drill a hole into the skull, releasing evil spirits that harbored themselves in one’s brain. For a more modern treatment, headache victims in the 1700s used to be placed in a centrifuge and spun until all of their blood went to their feet instead of their heads. I mean, I guess if you faint, then your head doesn’t hurt anymore. To be honest, I probably would’ve done this for fun.
Now, what causes a headache? Well, scientifically, in the brain, special nerve endings called nociceptors react to a trigger and mimic pain, causing tension around the thalamus in your brain. But what are these triggers? According to Apex High’s own Ms. Vogt, dehydration is the biggest inflictor of headaches among high school students. Lack of sleep, caffeine withdrawal, and general stress also causes headaches, which also describes the average Apex High student. Allergies and pressure changes can induce cephalalgia (the scientific name for a headache); good timing since summer is coming, and we’re all over that. And probably uncommon but also cause for concern, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, hangovers, concussions, and infections can cause the more mild and moderate headaches.
What’s worse than headaches? Migraines. Migraines are what you genuinely have to fear. Just like how hot dogs are made, we aren’t sure what causes migraines, but migraines can completely take out a person. Migraines can last more than three days, cause abdominal pain, sensitivity to all the senses, blurred vision, and even fainting. And these things can just pop up out of nowhere and completely wreak havoc on your life. FUN!
Finally, and the reason most people would read this article about headaches, is how to get rid of them. Obviously, some ibuprofen in your system will help the headache go away. You should also try to put something cold or hot on the part of your head that’s hurting. Let your hair down, get rid of any bright lights, don’t chew on anything hard to nibble, rehydrate, massage your head, eat or drink some ginger, and get back on your caffeine addiction. Let’s be entirely serious: you’re not going to break your coffee dependence unless you start sleeping in more; the mornings are too hard without it. And if none of that works, try the cure-all for anything and everything, and just go to sleep. Don’t try to fight off a headache with just pure will; that extra combined half hour of work that will get done is not worth it.
Hopefully reading this long-winded article about headaches didn’t induce a headache, but if it did, be glad that I gave you some ways to combat it. Headaches affect everyone, and if it hasn’t affected you, then it probably will very soon. VERY IMPORTANT REMINDER: if your headache lasts longer than usual, go see a doctor; brain cancer will not go away because of some Advil. Keep some water and Tylenol on you, sleep a lot, and take your usual source of caffeine and you’ll be prepared to fight a headache at any time because you need a headache like you need evil spirits haunting your brain (and the subsequent hole in your head).