Hurtful Headaches

The Cause and What You Can Do to Stop it

Student suffering from a headache due to staring at a computer too long.

Student suffering from a headache due to staring at a computer too long.

     I am sure we have all experienced the pounding pain that comes with a headache at some point in our lives. The bright screens on computers and the fluorescent lights in classrooms do not help in relieving any pain. Many teachers have made accommodation to their classrooms by turning off lights, but sometimes it isn’t enough. But what exactly is the cause of this agitating pain and what can we do to stop it? 

     According to National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, also known as NINDS, “Headaches occur when pain-sensitive nerve endings called nociceptors react to headache triggers (such as stress, certain foods or odors, or use of medicines) and send messages through the trigeminal nerve to the thalamus, the brain’s “relay station” for pain sensation from all over the body.” The thalamus controls the brain’s sensitivity to noises and light, which is why staring at electronic screens for an extended period can cause headaches. There is a wide variation of headaches, but the most common way of classifying them medically is into two sections; primary headaches and secondary headaches. Research conducted at Mayo Clinic found that, “A primary headache isn’t a symptom of an underlying disease.” These types of headaches are caused by alcohol consumption, processed meats, skipped meals, stress, poor posture, and lack of sleep. However, secondary headaches are, “…a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head.” Panic disorders, influenza, high blood pressure, and concussions are some of many causes for secondary headaches.  

     It is important to note that the majority of headaches are primary headaches. If you experience consistent pain for an extended amount of time, you should visit your doctor to discuss your symptoms and potential treatment. 

     There are many ways you can prevent headaches from occurring. For example, drinking plenty of water can aid in reducing the pain of a headache. See Ellie Solovyev’s article to learn more about proper hydration. Get the recommended amount of sleep daily; for middle schoolers that is around 8-10 hours of sleep. Eat three full meals daily that are full of nutrients, exercise often, and try to reduce stress. 

     Headaches can change your life entirely. They can make life less enjoyable, but by following these steps, you can prevent hurtful headaches before they occur so you can live your life to the fullest.