Headaches are one of the most common health complaints, not just for college students, but for adults.


  • Keep a diary of when, where, and why the headaches occur.
  • Be aware of early symptoms.  Try to stop the headache as soon as it begins.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Keep regular sleeping times, as much as you can.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid excess alcohol; it can cause a headache.

Signs, Symptoms & Causes

Symptoms vary depending on the type of headache.

Tension or Muscular Headaches

Most headaches are this type.  Signs and symptoms:

  • a dull ache in your forehead, above your ears, or at the back of your head
  • pain in your neck or shoulders that travels to your head

Tension headaches are caused by tense or tight muscles in the face, neck, or scalp.  You can get a tension headache from a number of things:

  • not getting enough sleep
  • felling “stressed out”
  • reading for long periods of time or eyestrain
  • doing repetitive work
  • staying in one position for a long time, such as working at a computer

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches happen when blood vessels in your head open too wide or close too tight.  Signs and symptoms are:

  • headaches that start on the side of your head and one side of your head hurts more than the other
  • you feel sick to your stomach or vomit
  • you see spots or zigzag flashes of light before your headache
  • light hurts your eyes, nose bothers you, and the headache is worse with activity

After the headache, some people have a drained feeling with tired, aching muscles.  Others feel great after the headache goes away.

Migraines can occur with or without an aura.  An aura is symptoms a person experiences, such as spots or flashing lights, or numbness for 10 to 30 minutes prior to the headache.  Ten percent of all migraines are this type; 90% occur without an aura.

Migraine headaches occur more often in females than in males and tend to run in families.

Certain things trigger migraine headaches in susceptible people.  They include:

  • menstruation in females
  • caffeine, alcohol, and/or certain foods, such as aged cheeses, cured meats (hot dogs, ham, etc.)
  • stress or changes in sleeping patterns
  • strenuous exercise

Sinus Headaches

A sinus headache occurs when fluids in the nose aren’t able to drain well and a buildup of pressure occurs in the sinuses.  A cold, allergies, dirty or polluted water, and airplane travel can cause a sinus headache.  Signs and symptoms are:

  • pain in your foerhead, cheekbones, and nose that is worse in the morning
  • increased pain when you bend over or touch your face
  • stuffy nose

Other Causes of Headaches

  • analgesic rebound from regular or repeated use of over-the counter or prescribed pain relievers
  • eating or drinking something very cold, such as an ice cream {Note: to prevent ice cream headaches, warm the ice cream for a few seconds in the front of your mouth}
  • low blood sugar; hunger
  • cigarette smoke, or exposure to chemicals, and/or pollution
  • uncorrected vision problems, such as nearsightedness
  • caffeine withdrawal
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome


Self-care can be used for headaches caused by tension, fatigue, and/or stress.  Over-the-counter Excedrin Migraine or prescribed medicines can be used to treat migraine headaches.

Biofeedback has helped many people who have suffered from headaches.

Headaches that are symptoms of health conditions are relieved when the condition is treated with success.

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