A Comprehensive Guide to Severe Headaches – Causes and Treatments

man with tension headache

Have you ever had one of those days when a headache just won’t quit? Yeah, we’ve all been there. But for some, a severe headache can be a regular occurrence. If you suffer from severe headaches regularly, you might be wondering what could be causing them and how to get relief. Below, we’ll discuss some of the common causes of severe headaches as well as the best treatments for each:

Common Causes of Severe Headaches

There are many types of severe headaches, and each has its own causes. Read on to learn about some of the more common reasons why people experience severe headaches.


Migraines are intense, throbbing headaches that can last for hours or even days. They often cause nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Common triggers include bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, certain foods, changes in weather, and stress. While there is no cure for migraines, many effective treatments can help lessen their intensity and frequency.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. As their name implies, they are often caused by tension in the neck and head muscles. Other common causes include stress, poor posture, eyestrain, and caffeine withdrawal. Tension headaches can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, if they are frequent or severe, you may need to see a doctor for additional treatment options.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are relatively rare but can be extremely severe. They get their name because they tend to occur in groups or clusters over weeks or months. Cluster headaches typically cause intense pain on one side of the head. They may also cause watering eyes, runny nose, and swelling around the look on that same side. The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown. Still, they may be linked to changes in serotonin levels or abnormal blood flow around the brain. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cluster headaches, but there are treatments that can help lessen their frequency and intensity.

Remedies and Treatments

woman with heachade, cold compress remedy

Of course, if you’re experiencing severe or chronic headaches, it’s always best to consult with a doctor. But for mild discomfort, there are plenty of helpful home remedies worth trying. Read on for the best tips and treatments for headaches.

Traditional medicine

Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to help reduce the intensity of headaches. If you’re looking for a more natural approach, acupuncture is also a great option. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body with needles to stimulate the body’s own healing powers and reduce pain.


Meditating can help reduce stress, one of the most common causes of headaches. Taking time out to focus on breathing and clear your mind can be a great way to relax and relieve a headache.

Stay hydrated

If you’re not drinking enough water, that could be one reason for your headaches. When you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t have enough fluid to properly function, leading to pain and pressure in the head.

To ward off dehydration (and subsequent headaches), make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. The recommended amount is eight 8-ounce glasses or about 2 liters.

Apply a cold compress

Cold can help constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation, which might contribute to headaches. To try this remedy:

  • Wrap ice in a clean cloth and apply it to your forehead or neck for about 15 minutes.
  • Or take a cold shower or bath.

Use a heating pad or hot compress

If cold doesn’t help your headache, the heat might do the trick instead. Warmth also dilates blood vessels and helps relax muscles, which can lead to relief from head pain. Try this method: Place a heating pad on your forehead or neck for 10-15 minutes.

Dim the lights and close your eyes

Sometimes, light can worsen headache pain. If that’s the case for you, find a dark and quiet room to rest in until the pain subsides. Avoid sound and light exposure by closing the curtains, turning off screens, and wearing sunglasses if you have to go outside.

Final thoughts

If you suffer from severe headaches regularly, you’re not alone. There are many different types of severe headaches, each with its own set of causes and treatments. Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into why you may be experiencing those debilitating headaches, as well as some ideas on how to find relief. However, if your headaches persist or become worse over time, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional to rule out any severe underlying conditions.

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