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Common Causes Of Headaches

Common causes of headaches are discussed here. Headaches are very common and can be divided into primary headaches that occur spontaneously and secondary headaches that are due to another underlying medical cause. Links are provided that explain the various causes of headaches in more detail.

Brain tumors

Another cause for headaches can be the development of a brain tumor. Use this link to get to the site where brain cancer is discussed in detail.

Cerebral aneurysm

Another cause can be the accumulation of blood in the subarrachnoid space from the rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. Use this link to get to this chapter.

Dental pain

Headaches can be caused by dental abscesses, root canal disease, underbite, overbite and night time tooth grinding.

Cavities also can cause headaches. The common denominator is an irritation of the powerful trigeminal nerve, which supplies teeth with sensitive nerve fibers. This can trigger the brain stem and the cortex of the brain to produce a severe, overpowering headache. See your dentist, if you are aware that your teeth are the cause of this headache. Nature equipped us with a built-in alarm system and we better pay attention to it!

Dialysis headache

Headaches in the setting of hemodialysis for kidney failure can occur from too little sodium concentration in the dialysis fluid (Ref.4, p. 1511). Another mechanism of developing a headache in association with hemodialysis is when the blood pressure has significantly dropped about 4 hours after the start of hemodialysis (Ref.4, p. 1512).

Giant cell arteritis

Giant cell arteritis has been discussed in another chapter. This is a rheumatological disease where there is a strong association with polymyalgia rheumatica. Headaches are often associated with a condition, called temporal arteritis. This, if not treated can lead to blindness of the eye on the side of the headache. Use this link to get to this chapter: Polymyalgia rheumatica and temporal arteritis.

Common Causes Of Headaches

Common Causes Of Headaches


The mechanism of headaches caused by high blood pressure is due to swelling of the meningeal membranes from congestion based on uncontrolled hypertension. For details click on this link.

Neck abnormalities

Neck abnormalities come in many different forms. There are inborn (congenital) neck abnormalities with malformations in the lower cervical spine area (6th and 7th vertebral bodies) or at the upper end of the cervical spine in the first and second vertebral body area. These abnormalities,arthritic changes and changes from trauma to the neck can lead to chronic neck pain, which has been dealt with in more detail under this link in another chapter. All of these problems can lead to headaches, mostly of the variety of the tension type headache.



1. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.,2000, W. B. Saunders Company

2. B. Sears: “The top 100 zone foods”. Regan Books, Harper Collins,   2001.

3. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 176.

4. Noble: Textbook of Primary Care Medicine, 3rd ed.,2001, Mosby, Inc.

5. Goroll: Primary Care Medicine, 4th ed.,2000, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

6.Rosen: Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice, 4th ed., 1998, Mosby-Year Book, Inc.

7. Ruddy: Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, 6th ed.,2001, W. B. Saunders Company

8. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

9. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

10. Suzanne Somers: “Breakthrough” Eight Steps to Wellness– Life-altering Secrets from Today’s Cutting-edge Doctors”, Crown Publishers, 2008

Last modified: August 27, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.