Primary headaches can be caused by consuming alcohol, skipping meals, eating certain foods, stress or a lack of sleep, state Mayo Clinic. Secondary headaches can be precipitated by several conditions, such as having acute sinusitis, concussion, influenza, a hangover or dental problems.
Changes in sleep, consuming red wine, having poor posture, and eating foods that contain nitrates, such as processed meat, can also cause a primary headache, reports Mayo Clinic. This type of headache is not a symptom of an underlying disease and results from increased pain sensitivity in the head. Certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to developing primary headaches.
Headaches that result from certain causes, such as coughing, sexual activity and exercise, or that last for an abnormal length of time, are less common and are generally considered to be a primary type of headache, according to Mayo Clinic. However, headaches related to these causes could also signify an underlying disease.
Secondary headaches can be caused by dehydration, carbon monoxide poisoning and the overuse of pain medication, explains Mayo Clinic. Additionally, conditions such as glaucoma, trigeminal neuralgia, encephalitis, intracranial hematoma and having a blood clot within the brain can cause a secondary headache. Panic disorder can also cause this type of headache, as can having a structural problem at the base of the skull known as a Chiari malformation. A secondary headache can stimulate pain-sensitive nerves in the head and is a symptom of a disease.