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Migraines and Other Headaches

When Headaches Are Not MigrainesLess Serious Headaches

Exertional Headaches

Exertion includes any kind of physical activity, even coughing. Exertion can cause headaches in some people.

Altitude Headaches

Until they become accustomed to the thinner air, people who go to places at high altitudes may experience headaches. Exertion, such as hiking or skiing, may make the headache worse. Altitude headaches cause a throbbing, pulsating pain. Pain relievers and increased oxygen sometimes help, but the best way to get rid of an altitude headache is to go back down the mountain.

Influenza and Other Viral or Bacterial Illnesses

Headaches often go hand-in-hand with various infections and fever. Bacteria and viruses produce headache-causing toxins (poisons). Fever can also cause headaches because of the increased blood flow to the brain and the dilation of the blood vessels.

Headaches From Substances

Some headaches are caused by ingesting or being exposed to certain substances. One common headache-causing food is ice cream. However, an ice cream headache usually lasts only a few minutes.

Drugs can cause much worse and longer-lasting headaches. Some of the drugs likely to cause headaches include alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. Drinking too much alcohol causes many people to wake up the next morning with throbbing head pain. Drugs that raise the body's metabolism and blood pressure, such as cocaine, can even cause an aneurysm.

Carbon monoxide, often caused by leaking heaters or gas stoves, can also cause headaches. This headache can be a warning of danger to come. If the level of carbon monoxide in a person's blood rises to over 50 percent, the person may go into coma and die. For protection, your family should have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.

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