Afternoon Headaches

What Causes Afternoon Headaches?

Afternoon headaches can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose afternoon headaches, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "afternoon headaches" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Low Serotonin
  • Magnesium Need
  • Dehydration
  • Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia
  • Stress

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
sexual abuse during childhood
sugar/sweet craving
heart racing/palpitations
moderate alcohol consumption
having had a small bowel resection
occasional bad dreams
being able to stay up late
much reduced sense of smell
long-term low-carb dieting
swollen inguinal nodes
regular sleep paralysis
much lower back pain
... and more than 140 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of afternoon headaches:
Cause Probability Status
Stress 90% Confirm
Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences 29% Unlikely
Dehydration 25% Unlikely
Magnesium Need 4% Ruled out
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 4% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 3% Ruled out
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 2% Ruled out
Low Serotonin 2% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate chronic headaches, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do your headaches (any type) tend to occur in the afternoon?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Often
→ Almost always / always
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate afternoon headaches, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Migraine/Tension Headaches

Migraine/Tension Headaches also suggests the following possibilities:

Aspartame/Neotame Side-Effects

Double-blind studies have demonstrated that aspartame causes headaches. [Headache 1988:28(1) pp.10-14, Biological Psychiatry 1993:34(1) pp.13-17, Neurology 1994:44 pp.1787-93.]

Dehydration

Dehydration is an important trigger of migraines and tension headaches.  The mechanisms are not entirely clear, but there appear to be several.  Dehydration leads to:

  • Narrowed blood vessels including those in the brain: A contributing factor for headaches
  • Histamine release to induce thirst: Histamine can trigger migraines
  • Decreased serotonin production: Changes in serotonin levels can trigger migraines
  • Oxidative stress: A major trigger of migraines [Dr. Jonathan M. Borkum, Headache, Vol. 58, Issue 1, January 2018: pp.118-35]
Environmental Illness / MCS

Central nervous system dysfunction is common, resulting in headaches, chronic fatigue, poor short term memory, hyperactivity, and increased appetite leading to food cravings and overeating.

Estrogens Low

Women must first be exposed to elevated estrogen levels before low estrogen levels will trigger headache activity.  Constant low levels of estrogen, as in menopause, are less likely to be associated with increased headache pattern.

Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement

A 'sluggish liver' often contributes to headaches.

Low Female Testosterone Level

Migraines are more common among women who have very low testosterone levels.

Low Melatonin Level

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of melatonin.

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Vascular or migraine headaches occur in 10% of lupus patients.

Magnesium Requirement

Migraines sufferers often are found to have reduced blood levels of magnesium.

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