Madison Goulder, of Ilam School, asks :-

Claire Fallon, of Ardgowan School, asked:- Abigail Spinoglio, of Green Island School, asked:-

What causes headaches?

John Hill, a neurologist at Dunedin Hospital, responded.

The word headache means pain in the head. The body produces pain in any part as a defense to warn us that something is going wrong, and that there is a need to find and correct the cause. The cause can be injury damaging body tissues, infection causing inflammation or a disturbance of the body chemistry involving the endocrine hormones.

Pain in the head can arise from any structure outside or inside the skull. The eyes, ears, throat, sinuses, skin, scalp and the bone itself can cause pain. Inside the skull pain can arise from the brain coverings (the meninges) or from the blood vessels. The brain tissue itself is able to record pain but is unable to produce pain itself.

Most headaches do not arise from damage to structures of the head but in response to conflict in our daily life. Emotion seems to be able to release chemicals that sensitize the muscles and cause a muscle tension headache or sensitize the blood vessels and cause a migraine headache.

We get headaches, not as a punishment, but as a physiological protection to warn us that all is not well.