The most common trigger of headaches is stress. Studies have found that it is the day-to-day stresses, not major life changes (such as moving or having a baby), that are most often linked to headaches. Some scientists believe that certain foods contain chemicals that can constrict the arteries and initiate a migraine, or that some foods can cause headaches by setting off an allergic reaction.
An Overview of Headache TriggersA number of things are thought to trigger headaches. Some of these triggers are more likely to cause tension headaches, while others can trigger migraines in those people who are susceptible (see Migraine Triggers).
Some headache triggers include:
- Lack of food
- Lack or sleep or changes in sleep patterns
- Bright light or loud noise
- Hormonal changes (in women)
- Weather changes
- Strong odors
- Certain foods (see Migraine Food Triggers)
- Caffeine (which is in soda, coffee, chocolate, tea, and energy drinks)
- Other emotional factors, such as frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement
- Sexual activity
- Illnesses or infections, such as ear infections, sinus infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections (UTIs), the common cold, or the flu
- A minor head injury.