A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop headaches with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing headaches. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk Factors for Tension Headache
Emotional stress, fatigue, or anger can result in tension headaches. Other risk factors include smoking and having too little physical activity, and too little sleep.
Risk Factors for Migraine
Lifestyle triggers can vary from person to person. Some reported triggers include
- Skipping meals
- Too much or too little sleep
- Emotional events
- Depression or anxiety
- Excessive alcohol use and hangovers
- Loud or sudden noises
Certain foods can also trigger a migraine. Keep a food diary to help you learn which foods or food additives may cause your migraines. Triggers may include
- Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
- Aged cheeses
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Certain fruits and nuts
- Fermented or pickled goods
- Cured or processed meats
Use of certain medications may trigger a migraine, including:
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy; there may be some relationship between female hormones and migraines
- Headache remedies used on a daily or near daily basis
The highest incidence is in teenage years.
Migraine headaches are more common among females.
Migraines seem to run in families.
Migraines may be triggered by blood vessels overreacting to a variety of factors, including:
- Changes in altitude, weather, or time-zone
- Glaring lights
- Perfumes or other odors
Risk Factors for Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches seem to occur more often in smokers.
Having head surgery or a head injury increases your risk of cluster headache.
Risk is greatest between 20-50 years old.
Males are at greater risk for cluster headaches than females.
Risk Factors for Sinus Headache
Certain medical conditions increase nasal secretions and cause swelling in the tissues lining the nasal passages. These changes lead to nasal congestion and stuffiness. The nasal passages become blocked and normal drainage cannot occur. Secretions that are trapped in the sinuses may become infected with bacteria or, rarely, fungus. The swollen tissues or infection may create pain and pressure.
Conditions that increase sinus pressure and increase your risk of sinus headache include:
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 11/2013 -
- Update Date: 01/02/2014 -