Headache can be simply defined as pain in your head. Pain can be dull, throbbing pain and sharp unbearable pain. Headaches can occur on any part of your head like front head, sides or on the back of your head. Some kinds of headache are limited to particular spot on the head (if there is any tumor inside) and sometimes the pain would radiate across the head.
Headache in the morning can change the course of entire day. It is unpleasant to wake up with a headache. Number of factors can cause headache ranging from stress, anxiety to more severe causes like tumor etc. All you need to do is to identify the nature of pain, its intensity and discuss with your doctor to find a solution. Headaches are of many types like migraine, tension headache and cluster headache. And headaches can be short lived (acute) or chronic (long period).
Morning headaches often attack you between 4-8 AM when the body is preparing for major physiological changes. Adrenalin hormone is produced in bulk during the early hours of the day during which headache can occur. And the body is in a condition to secrete lesser amounts of natural painkillers like endorphins during morning hours. This can also cause morning headache.
Morning Headache Causes
- As said earlier, headache comes in any intensity ranging from dull pain to staggering one. By describing the symptom properly, your doctor would be able to diagnose the root cause easily.
- Daily headache in the morning can be caused due to physiological as well as psychological factors.
- Some of the physiological factors causing morning headache include infection in the brain (meningitis), swelling or inflammation in the blood vessels of the brain, excess of pressure (intracranial pressure), presence of tumor in the brain and any other brain injury.
- Excess usage of medications like analgesics, pain killers can also cause headache. It is not wise to take OTC drugs for pain for more than a week.
- Headaches associated with other symptoms like nausea or vomiting can be due to digestion related problems.
- Tension (stress) headache can sometimes produce symptoms similar to migraine causing dull pain and pressure like feeling on the forehead and back of your head.
- Many people can get headache when they are not sleeping properly at night. Insomnia or sleeping sickness can weaken the brain’s function disrupting its normal activities. Morning headache can get triggered due to lack of quality sleep and sleep apnea and the person would wake up feeling heavy.
- Wrong sleeping posture can also cause headache in the morning. Sleeping in the same position or awkward position can produce a crick in your back along with morning headache. When you are putting excess of pressure to particular muscle in the neck or shoulders the entire night, it can cause considerable pain in that part.
- Very low blood sugar levels can cause morning headache for sure. People with prolonged diabetes often experience headache in the morning when the sugar levels have dropped down due to deprivation of food for hours together.
- Some people are in the habit of grinding their teeth during sleep which can produce vibrations that affects your head, neck and even shoulder producing morning headache and pain throughout the body.
- Cluster headaches can wake you up in the middle of sleep causing throbbing pain. Cluster headaches occur in episodes for days or weeks together.
- In addition to the above causes, headaches can occur without any apparent cause in millions of people.
Based on the symptoms, intensity of pain and its origin, your doctor would get cues for physiological problems like infection or other neurological issues. He may request for various tests including CT scan or MRI scanning of brain. The report of MRI brain can give precise picture ruling out any other abnormalities. In case your headache is stress induced, you will be referred to a professional psychologist to identify the underlying problem.
Read more on Migraine – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Morning Headache Treatment
Treatment for headache depends on the underlying cause. In case of infection, your doctor may suggest suitable antibiotics to destroy the bacteria/virus causing it.
- Antidepressants are prescribed for headaches of chronic type. Nortriptyline group of drugs are often given for chornic headaches. These drugs are effective in giving quality sleep getting rid of anxiety and stress.
- SSRI medications like fluoxetine can also give relief in treating headache.
- Beta blockers like atenolol or metoprolol are prescribed for treating hypertension that induces headache.
- Anti-seizure medications like sodium valporate are given for controlling headache.
- Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Anaprox or naprelan are prescribed for treating headaches in the morning. These drugs are effective for getting rid of side effects of pain-killers.
- Botox injection can give some relief from morning headache where no other options are giving console.
Several types of headaches can be prevented if they are of psychological origin. You need to join yoga and meditation classes for practicing relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises can give significant relief from headache and many kinds of pain also.
Morning Headache Home Remedies
- Hot and cold compression can give quick relief from any kind of pain and swelling. Hot bag can be placed on the forehead and back of your neck to get some comfort from headache. Similarly you can try using ice packs on the skin to get instant relief from aches. This simple remedy is effective for treating headaches caused by stress and sleeping in awkward posture.
- Try eating some cereals or oats porridge in the mornings to drive away the morning headache. Diabetic patients have the problem of sudden drop in blood sugar levels in the morning. They can eat something as soon as they wakeup which can provide comfort from headache. Drink two glasses of plain water in empty stomach in the morning.
- Do regular exercises at least for 30 minutes a day. Aerobic exercises can induce your brain to secrete “feel good” hormones that can reduce the morning headache. Further doing exercises daily can give you sound sleep.
- Always follow sleeping schedule. Go to sleep same time everyday and wakeup at the same time. Your bedroom should be dark and bedding comfortable. Use soft pillows that help in keeping your head in neutral position. The temperature in the bedroom should be optimal and during winter use thick blankets and sleep shirt to keep you warm.
Morning headache can be treated with various other methods like acupuncture, homeopathic medicines and massage. But remember to check with your doctor before starting any therapy. Coenzyme supplements like Q10 are used by some people for managing morning headache.
You need to understand the triggers to control headaches. Identify the things that increase stress in your mind and completely avoid them. Pay attention to your headaches and talk with your spouse. If necessary, seek help from a therapist to manage stress. Practice yoga and meditation regularly.
Tips For Prevention
- Get quality sleep.
- Do not overuse any medication since it can cause chronic headache.
- Choose healthy foods and don’t skip meals since leaving your stomach empty can induce headache in the morning.
- Do not drink coffee/tea after evening and avoid taking any caffeine products during dinner since it can interfere with your sleep.