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General Headache

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

Headache pain may be mild or severe. Common causes include stress, medicines, and head injuries. Sleep problems, allergies, and hormone changes can also cause a headache. You may have frequent headaches that have no clear cause. Pain may start in another part of your body and move to your head. Headache pain can also move to other parts of your body. A headache can cause other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. A severe headache may be a sign of a stroke or other serious problem that needs immediate treatment.

Headache Types


Have someone call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

Return to the emergency department if:

Call your doctor if:


You may need any of the following:

Manage your symptoms:

Keep a headache record:

Record the dates and times that you get headaches, and what you were doing before the headache started. Also record what you ate and drank in the 24 hours before the headache started. This might help your healthcare provider find the cause of your headaches and make a treatment plan. The record can also help you avoid headache triggers or manage your symptoms.

Get enough sleep:

You should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Create a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. It may be helpful to do something relaxing before bed. Do not watch television right before bed.

Do not smoke:

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can trigger a headache or make it worse. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Drink liquids as directed:

You may need to drink more liquid to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can cause a headache. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Limit caffeine and alcohol as directed:

Your headaches may be triggered by caffeine or alcohol. You may also develop a headache if you drink caffeine regularly and suddenly stop.

Eat a variety of healthy foods:

Do not skip meals. Too little food can trigger a headache. Include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Do not have trigger foods, such as chocolate and red wine. Foods that contain gluten, nitrates, MSG, or artificial sweeteners may also trigger a headache.

Healthy Foods

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.