These headaches occur in the minutes following some kind of physical exertion, including exercise, s*x, sneezing, laughing, or even, yep, pooping. “When you bear down, as you do during many of these activities, the spinal fluid pressure in the head increases briefly,” Green explains. That pressure leads to pain, which, luckily, is usually no cause for concern and should pass within a few minutes (or maybe up to an hour if it’s just not your day).
In rare cases, there could be a blood vessel problem causing this pain, so if a headache comes on extraordinarily strong soon after exerting yourself, go see a doc, Green says.
Just like the name suggests, this type of head pain has to do with your blood pressure, but average BP isn’t the culprit. Instead, this headache is caused by really, really high blood pressure—in the range of 200/110 or higher. “When blood pressure is very high, it’s elevated in the brain as well,” Green says. “Blood vessels may be restricting blood flow to the brain.” A hypertension headache can feel like that very specific pain you might get from wearing a headband, and it’s generally worse in the morning and improves throughout the course of the day, according to the National Headache Foundation. To alleviate the pain, it’s crucial to keep BP under control.
The cause of this boring, burning, or jabbing head pain remains unknown, but the condition is extremely serious, Green warns. We do know it’s linked to inflammation and almost always seen in people over the age of 60, who often also feel pain around their ears when chewing with these types of headaches. About one-third of people with giant cell arteritis will go blind, Green says, so it’s typically considered an emergency diagnosis. Doctors will start treatment with steroids as soon as possible to prevent blindness and dramatically improve the pain, he says.
The older you get, the more likely you are to have this pain in the temples and around the jaw, Green says. “Very sharp pain—like an electric shock—is typically triggered by something like touching the face or brushing the teeth,” he says, and people with this condition may experience several “shocks” a day, possibly due to an artery pressing on a nerve, he says. Muscle relaxants might help, according to the National Headache Foundation, but if a patient with these symptoms is younger than 55 or so, it may also be caused by a neurological disease, like MS.