Causes and Diagnoses
Causes and Diagnoses of Headaches and Concussions
Headaches may be caused by:
- Anxiety: Stress may bring on headaches
- Glare: Does the brightness from your computer screen, sunlight or overhead lights make your head hurt?
- Noise: Sound, from loud and repetitive to continuous low-level noise, can cause headache pain
- Eating and sleeping patterns: Being hungry can cause headaches, as can lack of sleep
- Medication: Certain prescriptions can trigger headaches
- Physical activity: Sometimes over-exertion can give you a headache from the swelling of blood vessels in your head, neck and scalp
- Lack of physical activity: Staying sedentary can also give you a headache.
- Posture: Sitting up straight keeps blood flowing
- Hormones: If estrogen levels drop, women may be more likely to get headaches
- Food sensitivities: Food and drink release neurotransmitters that can lead to headaches. Common triggers include aspartame, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and cheese
To make a diagnosis, your physician may ask you the following questions:
- When do headaches occur?
- Where is the pain?
- What do the headaches feel like?
- How long do the headaches last?
- Have you experienced changes in behavior or personality?
- Do changes in position or sitting up cause the headache?
- Do you have trouble sleeping?
- Do you have a history of stress?
- Have you had a head injury?
Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Sometimes, the signs of injury are not immediately obvious.
To properly diagnose a concussion or traumatic brain injury, your physician will begin with a thorough physical and neurological office exam, which will likely be followed by one or more of these tests: