Looks like you may need to upgrade your browser

We're sorry, we no longer support the web browser that you are using

For the best best experience, please update your browser, or try using a different browser

(We promise it'll be worth it)

Upgrade the to latest version or continue anyway

Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints.

Everyone gets headaches from time to time and they can be caused by a number of factors.

Our everyday lives can be busy, noisy and stressful and this can take its toll on our bodies.

Usually headaches are nothing to worry about but they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.

What is a headache?

A headache can take many different forms and can sometimes be difficult to describe.

You may feel a pain which is throbbing or squeezing and it may be a constant pain or be on and off.

The location of your headache can also vary.

It may be in one part of your head or face, or you might feel pain throughout your entire head1.

The pain can also vary from just being a nuisance to being quite severe.

Headaches are split into two different types: primary and secondary.

A primary headache is one where the headache itself is the main problem, and it is not a symptom of something else whereas a secondary headache is one which occurs as a result of another condition2.

Secondary headaches are ones which may indicate a more serious, underlying condition.

What causes headaches?

There are lots of things which may cause headaches and different things will affect people in different ways.

Some common causes of headaches include:

  • Drinking too much alcohol – this can happen during drinking, or the day after, which is known as a hangover headache
  • Emotional factors such as stress, depression or anxiety
  • An injury to your face or head
  • Having a cold or flu
  • Changes to the environment and weather, for example, heavy pressure in the air when there is going to be a storm3.

What is the difference between a headache and a migraine?

A migraine is a type of headache, however, it can be a lot more painful compared to a common headache and requires treating in a different way.

There are a few key differences between a migraine and a headache.

A migraine is a severe type of headache which is often described as a throbbing or pounding pain.

They usually last longer than a headache and can last anything from four hours to three days.

Unlike a headache, there may be other symptoms in addition to the pain.

These can include sensitivity to light; smells or noise, nausea or vomiting; and stomach pains4. Symptoms of migraines are usually extremely painful and they tend to be more intense and debilitating than a headache5.

What to do to prevent headaches

There are a few measures you can take yourself to prevent headaches or ease them.

Drink more water

Sometimes, if you don’t drink enough water, you may get a headache.

Dehydration happens when your body loses more water than it takes in. Sweat from excess heat or exercising means that you will need to drink more water to counteract this6. Ensure that you are drinking enough water. The NHS recommends drinking six to eight glasses of water each day7.

Get a good night’s sleep

Ensure that you are getting enough sleep.

Most adults need between seven and eight hours sleep each night. It is best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day8 and avoid doing things that are likely to keep you awake, like looking at screens, before bed time.

Try to stress less

Stress and worry can be a common cause of tension headaches.

Try to reduce your work schedule or get on top of organising your tasks, take some time to yourself to do yoga or meditation, or have a nice warm bath whilst you read a book or watch your favourite TV show.


Holland & Barrett Feverfew Migraine Relief Capsules are a traditional herbal medicinal product which can be used for the prevention of migraine headaches based on traditional use only. Simply take one capsule per day with water.

You can also take ibuprofen or paracetamol to get rid of a headache. These medications can provide fast and effective headache relief.

Most headaches can be treated with pain relief or will go away on their own and are not a sign of anything more serious.

However, if you experience an unusual pattern of headaches, more frequent or constant headaches, or you experience a headache after a head injury, you should seek medical advice9.

Last Updated: 22nd October 2020