Headaches Latest Facts: Types, Symptoms and Common Causes

Secondary headaches

Secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disease. They are a symptom of a health condition. These headaches are rare, but they can be an indication of a serious underlying health condition and hence, can be potentially dangerous. Various conditions can cause secondary headaches and the treatment option will be to treat the underlying cause. Some of the common causes of secondary headaches are mentioned below. Please note that this list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive.

Acute sinusitis

It is inflammation and infection of the nasal cavity and surrounding sinuses. In this condition, excessive amounts of mucus are produced, and the drainage channels are blocked. This blockage leads to a buildup of mucus and consequently, a feeling of a headache.

Arterial tears

It is the formation of a tear on the inside membrane of the artery. If this tear occurs in the vertebral or carotid artery, it can lead to headaches and facial pain. The pain usually occurs on the same side of the arterial tear.

A brain aneurysm

It is a balloon-like bulge in a vessel wall and it usually occurs in vessels in which walls have been weakened. It can cause a severe headache.

Brain tumors

Any type of brain tumor can lead to a dull pressure-type headache. The location and severity of headache may vary depending upon the location, size, and type of brain tumor.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

A headache is one of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Chiari malformation

This is a structural issue at the base of the skull that results in decreased space for the posterior part of the brain, the cerebellum. It can lead to a throbbing and sharp type of headache that may radiate in the neck and shoulder region.


A headache is one of the symptoms of concussions.

Coronavirus disease 2019

A headache is a potential symptom of COVID-19.


Due to fluid loss, there is shrinkage of the brain. This shrinkage can result in a headache.

Dental problems

Any dental issue can result in a headache due to muscular tension.

Ear infection

An ear infection can lead to a headache on the same side of the infection.


It is inflammation of the brain tissue. The inflammation results in the swelling of the brain tissue that manifests in a headache.

Giant cell arteritis

It is the inflammation of the arteries, particularly in the temple region. It causes a throbbing headache that is continuous.


Headache is often a symptom of acute angle-closure glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, the drainage system of the eye closes and the pressure in the eye rises. This rise in pressure can present as a headache.


Alcohol can cause headaches due to various mechanisms. Usually, the alcohol intake leads to dehydration and dehydration can cause a headache.

High blood pressure

Generally, high blood pressure is not considered to be associated with headaches. But a hypertensive crisis can elicit a headache. In a hypertensive crisis, blood pressure rises significantly, and intracranial pressure increases to a great extent which can manifest as a headache.


Many types of medications that are used to treat different health conditions can cause headaches.


It is the inflammation of the layers of tissues surrounding the brain. This can present as a headache.

Tight headgear

Any type of headgear like helmets that are too tight can cause a headache.


A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is impaired and brain cells in that region begin to die. This can result in a severe sudden onset headache which is described by the patient as the worse headache of their life.

Trigeminal neuralgia

This is the pain caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve. It can lead to pain in the face and head region.

Read Also: Epilepsy Latest Facts: Pathophysiology, Causes, Types, and Treatments


Standford healthcare, Headache, Accessed May 11, 2021, https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/brain-and-nerves/headache.html

Harvard Health Publishing, Causes of common headaches, Accessed May 11, 2021,  https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/causes-of-headaches



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