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Health Conditions That Bring About Headaches And Nausea

Health problems dampen most days. And, certain disorders bring about two health problems, namely headaches and nausea, at the same time. Other symptoms of these conditions can help you identify the cause of headaches and nausea. Migraines come with sensitivity to light. Cluster headaches cause red watery eyes. Hypotension causes cold, sweaty skin. Food poisoning causes diarrhea. Scarlet fever causes a red rash. Lastly, motion sickness causes excessive sweating and burping.

Certain things can really wreak havoc on our day. And, this could be anything from an angry email from your boss, a tiff with a loved one, or just bad traffic. But, what can really bulldoze the best of days are headaches accompanied by nausea. They seem to occur due to no particular reason and make getting through the day extremely difficult.

In order to be able to treat headaches and nausea, it’s important to identify what’s caused them. Here are a few health conditions that might be guilty of this.

1. Migraine

Migraines come with sensitivity to light.

The most common type of headache that also causes nausea is a migraine. You might feel pain only on one side of the head if you suffer from a migraine. Common symptoms of a migraine (apart from nausea), include sensitivity to light and vomiting. Common triggers of migraine include

  • Processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods
  • Baked goods
  • Fruits (such as avocado, banana, and citrus fruit)
  • Meat and dairy
  • Red wine
  • Stress

Certain odors, loud noises, and bright lights might also cause migraines. Over the counter medications, adequate sleep, and stress management might relieve the symptoms of migraine.1

2. Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches cause red watery eyes.

Cluster headaches are a rare and extremely painful. They are characterized by headaches that come in clusters, with 1–8 headaches a day. These headaches occur during a 1–3 month period almost every year, often at the same time of the year.

The pain caused due to these headaches is always severe and strikes one side of the head. Other symptoms that accompany cluster headaches include

  • Nausea
  • Red and watery eyes (on the painful side)
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Runny or blocked nose

The pain starts abruptly and might last for 30–60 minutes. You might feel restless and agitated during this time.  Statistics indicate that men are five times more likely to get them as compared to women. A common cause of cluster headaches is smoking. However, anyone can get them. Certain nose drops, medications, and injections might be effective against cluster headaches, so if you suspect that you have them, do consult a doctor at the earliest.2

3. Hypotension

Hypotension causes cold, sweaty skin.

Abnormally low blood pressure might be behind your headaches and nausea. Some people tend to have low blood pressure at all times, and don’t have any accompanying signs or symptoms. This is normal and doesn’t need medical attention. However, sometimes your body might not be able to bring blood pressure back to normal or might be too slow in doing so. This causes symptoms like

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cold, sweaty skin
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision.

Certain medications and health disorders cause hypotension. And, it needs immediate medical attention. So, if you do experience any of the above symptoms along with low blood pressure, do consult a professional immediately.3 4

4. Food Poisoning

Food poisoning causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Certain kinds of food poisoning can bring about nausea and headaches. These are specific to the organism that contaminates food, including

  • Hepatitis A: These virus is found in raw produce, contaminated drinking water, shellfish from contaminated waters, and uncooked foods. They might also be found in cooked foods that are not reheated after coming into contact with an infected food handler. Apart from headache and nausea, poisoning due hepatitis A causes diarrhea, dark urine, jaundice, and abdominal pain.
  • Noroviruses: These viruses are also found in raw produce, contaminated water, and uncooked food. They cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Food poisoning is common in America, with 48 million cases annually. And, while most cases get resolved without treatment, it’s always best to consult a professional to rule out any possible complications.5

5. Scarlet Fever

Group A streptococcus (bacteria) cause scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever is a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococcus (bacteria). It usually affects people who have a strep throat or skin infections caused by the same bacteria. Most common in children, scarlet fever might need medical attention to avoid any complications. The common symptoms of this condition include

  • Headaches
  • Bodyache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A very red, sore throat
  • A fever (104 degrees or above)
  • Swollen glands
  • A red rash with a sandpaper feel
  • Bright red skin in the underarms, elbows, and groin creases
  • A whitish coating on the tongue
  • A “strawberry” (red and bumpy) tongue

An antibiotic treatment usually relieves this condition. It is also important for people who have this condition to wash their hands regularly and get adequate rest.6

6. Motion Sickness

Motion sickness causes sweating and burping.

Motion sickness is caused due to sensitivity to certain kinds of motion. Generally, motion sickness takes place when there is a mismatch between the information that the brain receives from the vestibular system ( inner ear balance mechanism) and what the eyes “see.” Symptoms of motion sickness include

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Burping
  • Sweating
  • Excessive production of saliva

You might also break a cold sweat if you suffer from motion sickness. You could try staring at a fixed object, close your eyes, and avoid alcohol 24 hours before travelling. Additionally, certain medications can help you beat this condition. But, be sure to consult a professional before self-prescribing.7

7. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclic vomiting syndrome causes physical exhaustion.

This syndrome leads to sudden, repeated attacks of severe nausea, vomiting, and physical exhaustion that seem to occur due to no apparent cause. Other symptoms of this condition include

  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light

These attacks could last from a few hours to several days.  Sometimes, they might be so severe that a person has to stay in bed for days. If you suspect that you might have this condition, do consult a professional immediately.8

Other general causes of headache and nausea include pregnancy, excessive alcohol or caffeine intake, and dehydration. But, these causes are mild and generally resolve themselves. If you ever suspect that your headache and nausea might be something serious, or if you tend to experience the two a lot, do consult a professional at the earliest.

References   [ + ]

1. Managing migraines at home. US National Library of Medicine.
2. Headache: When to worry, what to do. Harvard Health Publishing.
3. What Is Hypotension? US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.
4. Vaidhyanath, Ram, Richard Kenningham, Arshad Khan, and Nicholas Messios. “Spontaneous intracranial hypotension: a cause of severe acute headache.” Emergency Medicine Journal 24, no. 10 (2007): 739-741.
5. Symptoms of Food Poisoning. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.
6. Scarlet Fever: A Group A Streptococcal Infection. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
7. Motion sickness. Victoria State Government.
8. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. US Department Of Health And Human Services.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.