Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Loveleen. Loveleen Wonders, “Why do we have a headache?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Loveleen!
Do you ever get stressed? How about when you have a big test looming and you're staying up late to study for it? Those long nights trying to cram information into your brain can take their toll. In fact, you might strain your brain to the point where your entire head begins to hurt.
The tense pain at the base of your skull…the throbbing pain in your temples…could your head explode? Nope! You're just dealing with a common ailment that we all face from time to time. What are we talking about? A headache, of course!
Although it might seem like your brain is the source of a headache, the brain itself can't feel pain. Headaches actually occur in the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves found in the head and neck. When these areas experience swelling or tightening, they exert pressure on nerves that then send pain messages to the brain. The result? A headache!
The most common type of headache is known as a tension headache. Tension headaches occur when head and neck muscles contract too hard or too often. The dull, constant pain of a tension headache often feels like someone is squeezing your head.
Some people experience another type of headache known as a migraine. Migraines are especially severe headaches that cause sharp, throbbing pain. People who get migraines often feel nauseous, and the pain of a migraine can be so bad that it causes a person to vomit.
Headaches have all sorts of different kinds of causes. Often headaches are related to another illness you have, such as a cold or the flu. When you get better, the headache goes away. If a headache isn't related to an illness, it may have been triggered by something else.
For example, common headache triggers include: lack of sleep, poor nutrition, overexposure to sunlight, overheating the body, stress, motion sickness, too much television or time spent staring at a screen, strong odors, allergies, and caffeine. One thing experts know for sure is that a tendency to get headaches can run in the family. So if your parents get headaches often, you might experience them in the future, too.
If you experience a headache, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. In addition to pain, headaches can make you feel distracted, tired, and irritable. Headaches can make even the simplest tasks seem nearly impossible.
So what should you do if you have a headache? Tell an adult! You may just need to take a nap or rest for a bit. Often closing your eyes in a dark, quiet room for a few minutes will help ease the pain of a headache.
An adult might also give you an over-the-counter medicine for your headache. The most common pain relief medicines for headaches are acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Adults might also take aspirin, but aspirin isn't recommended for children because it can cause a rare disease known as Reye syndrome.