Motherhood comes with headaches — lots of headaches. Caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep, kids pounding on that toy drum set your mother-in-law so generously gifted them last Christmas. Whatever the reason, unfortunately, we’re all too familiar with the throbbing before it even begins. According to the World Health Organization, pretty close to half of the adult population suffers from headaches regularly. That’s a lot of people. The thing is, so many things can trigger headaches. We’re going to focus here on a type of headache that may seem concerning — but is nothing to worry about most of the time (whew!). Can you guess? If you said “headache when bending over,” you hit the nail on the woefully pounding head.
Before we begin, a bit of background info should be helpful. There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary. If you hear the term primary headaches, it refers to when the headache is the primary, or only, symptom. The three subcategories of primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are classified as such when the headache is due to something underlying. Secondary headaches include allergy-induced or sinus headaches, positional headaches, and headaches from illness or injury. Headaches that occur when bending over can have several causes, most of which aren’t serious. Below, we’re gonna break down four common causes.
A quick disclaimer — if you have persistent headaches with no known cause, make an appointment with your primary care provider to rule out anything serious.
Reasons You May Have a Headache When Bending Over
1. Dehydration Headache
Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of headaches in adults. We simply do not drink enough water. This creates problems since our body needs water to function as it should. Dehydration headaches can often be made worse by bending over, walking, or turning your head.
Other symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Extreme thirst
- Muscle cramps
- Dark yellow pee
- Brain fog
Thankfully, if it’s just a case of mild dehydration, drinking a few glasses of water will usually get you feeling like yourself again. However, if you notice severe dehydration symptoms, such as diarrhea and fever, you must give your doctor a call.
2. Sinus Headache
If you’ve ever experienced a sinus headache, you know they’re no joke. Sinusitis (aka sinus inflammation) can cause facial pain and pressure, runny nose, congestion, and of course, headaches. Head pain can get worse when bending over due to a buildup of fluid around the sinus cavities. Inflammation in your sinus passages causes them to narrow, making it difficult for the fluid to drain. Trapped fluid can lead to an infection if not treated. The headache usually improves once the inflammation decreases and the fluid can drain.
Remedies for sinus headaches include:
- Applying a warm compress to your face or head
- Saline nose spray
- Steam from hot shower or humidifier
- An OTC pain reliever or decongestant
3. Cough Headache
You may not be familiar with this type of headache, but it’s every bit as prevalent. Cough headaches are usually short-lived, causing sharp pain when you laugh, sneeze, cry, bend over, or cough (obviously, right?). Cough headache pain is most often located in the back and on the sides of the head, with the back typically being more pronounced. The pain usually comes on during the triggering action or immediately after. It can last anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour. Cough headaches don’t generally require treatment, but if you need relief, you can drink a glass of water or lie down in a quiet room.
If you find that you get them often or they interfere with your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor. Certain preventative medications can reduce inflammation and relax blood cells, lessening the frequency and severity of headaches.
Other symptoms that could indicate a more worrisome underlying condition include long-lasting headaches, vision issues, and dizziness during or after onset. If you notice any of these, make an appointment to see your doctor for a thorough exam.
4. Migraine Headaches
Migraine headaches are the worst. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly one in four US households have at least one person who suffers from migraines. Migraines can be debilitating, causing people to feel like they are missing out on life and work. Many people use the term migraine to describe run-of-the-mill headaches, but that’s inaccurate. Migraines are much more than a severe headache. They’re a neurological disease with often incapacitating symptoms like nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, and tingling or numbness in the face.
We don’t always know what causes migraines, but they are often brought on by certain triggers — weather changes, certain medications, sensitivity to fragrances, change in sleep patterns, and more. Movement can also be a trigger (which is why it made this list). There is no one-size-fits-all cure for migraines, but there are a few things you can try when you feel one coming on. Resting in a dark, quiet room would be the primary choice for immediate relief.
Migraine treatment can be a lot of trial and error, but many people have success with acupuncture, essential oils, diet changes, yoga, drinking more water, and avoiding known triggers. There are also medications available if natural remedies don’t do the trick. You can try an OTC headache relief medicine like Excedrin, or you can speak with your doctor about prescription options suitable for your circumstances.
5. Low Blood Sugar or Pressure
Whether you’re diabetic or someone who deals with low blood sugar, keeping your glucose steady is important. When it’s too low, this can cause dizziness, especially when bending over. The same can happen when you have low blood pressure because there isn’t enough blood pumping to your brain, which can also make you woozy.
To ensure you don’t pass out, when your blood sugar is low, eat something naturally sweet like fruit or granola. And if your pressure is continually weak, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating regularly throughout the day.
Types of Headaches and Location
There are many ways to identify the kind of headache you’re having based on where you feel it.
- Feeling pain in the back of your head or neck are usually tension headaches or migraines.
- If you feel pressure on the top of your head, it’s most likely a tension headache.
- Pain in your forehead, cheeks, or behind your eyes are also sometimes tension headaches or migraines. It can also be a sign of sinus infection or a cluster headache.
What vitamin deficiency can cause dizziness?
If you’ve been experiencing dizzy spells, a lack of vitamin B12 may be the cause. This nutrient keeps nerve and blood cells healthy. It also prevents megaloblastic anemia, which makes people feel lethargic and weak. A vitamin B12 deficiency can make you feel unsteady, cause low blood pressure, and decrease blood flow to the brain. So, to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of B12, take it in pill form or incorporate meat and dairy products into your diet.
Pressure Points to Get Rid Of a Headache
Acupuncture is a proven method to reduce pain. So to do your own pressure relieving exercises, here are several spots you should massage for relief.
- Pinch the space between your thumb and index finger. Hold it tightly for 10 seconds. Then, with your thumb, make tiny circles in that area. Do it for 10 seconds clockwise and then for another 10 counter-clockwise.
- This exercise is great for relieving sinus headaches. On the upper bridge of your nose, between your eyebrows, press on both sides with your index finger. Do this for about 10 seconds and repeat.
- Behind your neck, right above your spine, there are pressure points you can press on for tension relief. Hold that for about 10 seconds.
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