Headache and Nausea: Causes and Treatment

Jan 10, 2022


Have you ever had a headache and nausea at the same time? It is possible for a headache to cause nausea and vomiting. There are also other reasons why you might be experiencing nausea and headache together. If you suffer from constant nausea and headaches, then your quality of life can start to be negatively impacted. Headache, nausea, and vomiting can keep you from participating in regular routines and activities you enjoy. It can help to identify the root cause of your nausea and headaches so that you can experience lasting relief. Thankfully, there are options for headache and migraine treatment that can provide you with relief and help you prevent these uncomfortable symptoms in the future.

Common Causes of Both Headaches and Nausea

There are several reasons why you might experience any of the types of headaches and nausea at the same time. Here are seven common causes of both headaches and nausea.

Cold or Flu

Symptoms of the common cold typically include a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, high fever, headaches, and nausea. The flu can also cause more severe cases of these symptoms, along with chills and body aches. The stomach flu is typically a 24–48-hour bug that causes nausea and vomiting. You can also experience headaches with the stomach flu, especially if you have difficulty keeping fluids down and become dehydrated. When you aren’t feeling well due to the cold or flu, nausea and headache symptoms can make your discomfort worse.


When you are dehydrated, your body doesn’t have enough water and fluids to function properly. Dehydration can occur due to extreme heat, excessive activity, or as a side effect of medications. You may develop dehydration if you don’t drink enough water and fluids throughout your day. Dehydration can cause back pain, nausea and headaches.

Low Blood Sugar

People with or without diabetes can experience low blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops too low, it can leave you feeling tired, shaky, and sweaty, and it can cause nausea and headaches. If you are diabetic, the highs and lows of your blood sugar can make you feel nauseous, and certain medications may also have similar effects.

Caffeine, Nicotine, or Alcohol

Excessive use of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol can also lead to headaches and nausea. Too much caffeine in a short period of time can lead to nausea. Too much alcohol can also leave you feeling sick to your stomach and give you a headache the next day.

People who regularly engage in smoking or vaping nicotine or tobacco are also more likely to experience frequent headaches. Cutting caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol out of your diet suddenly can also lead to withdrawal symptoms that include headaches and nausea.

Stress, Depression, or Anxiety

If you are dealing with stress, depression, or anxiety, it is possible to start feeling these effects physically, as well. Your body may respond to high levels of stress with anxiety-related nausea or stress headaches. Physical symptoms like headaches and nausea can accompany mental health conditions, known as a psychosomatic response. If you are feeling stressed, depressed, or more anxious than usual, these feelings can disrupt your regular routines and you may be more likely to neglect staying hydrated and turn to stimulants like caffeine to regulate your emotions. However, this can cause uncomfortable symptoms like nausea and headaches that may make your stress, depression, or anxiety worse.


Headaches and nausea can also be common during one’s pregnancy due to the sudden rush of hormones in the body. Nausea is more common in the first trimester of pregnancy and is often referred to as morning sickness, though it can also occur throughout the pregnancy. You should talk to your doctor if you experience headaches during the third trimester, as this can be a sign of a serious condition known as preeclampsia.


Migraines are one of the most common reasons why people experience headaches and nausea at the same time. A migraine is a type of headache that causes intense, throbbing pain along with other uncomfortable symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. These moderate to severe headaches can be debilitating and keep you from completing your work, driving, or being around a lot of noise and activity.

Causes of Migraine Attacks

Causes-of-Migraine-AttacksMigraine attacks can occur for a variety of reasons. Common triggers for a migraine include bright lights, loud sounds, stress, and extreme weather temperatures. Migraine triggers can differ from person to person. One person may find that hormonal changes with menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause trigger migraine attacks, while another person may experience a migraine after intense physical activity. Doctors have also found that abnormal activity and chemical imbalances in the brain are also significant contributing factors to migraine attacks.

If you start to experience migraines, it can help to keep track of what you were doing when you first noticed the migraine, what foods you had eaten that day, along with any medications you may be taking. This can help identify the cause or trigger for your migraine attacks. Migraines can also run in the family, so it helps to learn if you have a family history of migraines or other neurological conditions with similar symptoms.

Stages and Symptoms of Migraine Headaches

Many people are surprised to learn that migraines are more than just bad headaches. In fact, migraine headaches care a type of neurological condition that causes multiple symptoms, including debilitating headaches. Other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tingling, numbness, and sensitivity are also symptoms of migraines. Some people may experience dizziness, feel faint, or notice pain on only one part of the head. Here are the three stages of migraine headaches and what symptoms typically occur at those times.

Prodrome Stage

The first stage of a migraine attack is known as the prodrome stage, which occurs 1 to 2 days before the headaches begin. During this time, you may experience symptoms such as low energy or fatigue, food cravings, irritability, and neck stiffness. Some people also experience migraine with aura, which is when you notice difficulty with vision, sensations, movements, or speech during this time. One sign that a migraine is coming soon might be that you start feeling a tingling sensation along your arms or legs or on your face.

Attack Stage

The attack stage of a migraine refers to when the headache sets in. This can cause dull, throbbing pain or pulsating, pounding pain. People experience migraine headache pain differently, though in many cases, the pain can feel debilitating. Pain with a migraine headache can start off mild and become increasingly uncomfortable over a number of hours or days and may affect only one side of your head. During the attack phase, you may develop an increased sensitivity to sounds or lights along with headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

Postdrome Stage

The final stage of a migraine attack is the postdrome stage. The migraine headache may turn into more of a dull headache with a lower pain intensity than during the attack stage. During the postdrome stage, you may experience a shift in your mood, like feeling extremely happy and euphoric or feeling excessively fatigued and apathetic.

Treatment Options for Migraine Headaches

Treatment-Options-for-Migraine-HeadachesWhile there is no specific treatment that completely heals migraines, there are many options available that address your symptoms and help alleviate your pain. Here are examples of treatment options for migraine headaches, ranging from remedies you can try at home to working with a Marietta chiropractor.

At-Home Remedies

When the symptoms of a migraine start to set in, lying in a dark, quiet room can help. This removes stimuli like loud noises and bright lights that may make your pain worse. You can also try putting a warm cloth on your forehead or a cold compress along the back of your neck to help with the pain and discomfort. You may also be able to help ease the pain of a migraine headache with over-the-counter pain medications. Anti-nausea medications may help with nausea that accompanies a migraine.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Staying hydrated each day can go a long way to feeling healthy and energized. Drinking plenty of fluids can also help you avoid dehydration. Identifying what triggers your migraines can also help. Reducing your intake of caffeine or alcohol or quitting smoking may help reduce the frequency of migraines. You may notice that certain foods trigger a migraine for you, so you remove those foods from your diet. Focusing on a healthy, balanced diet can also help ensure you are getting the right amount of nutrients your body needs. Spending long hours in front of screens may also trigger migraines. Avoiding screens when you notice signs or symptoms of a migraine may help reduce the intensity of your headaches.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors use an all-natural approach to relieving your migraine and other symptoms. When you see a chiropractor about migraines, they can use gentle and therapeutic techniques called chiropractic adjustments to help properly align your spine. When your spine is out of alignment, even the slightest, it can impact the healthy functioning of your nervous system. Because migraines are a type of neurological condition, reducing pressure on or eliminating disruption of the central nervous system can help reduce your frequency of migraines. If one of your triggers for migraines is stress, then a chiropractor can help reduce tension in your muscles and help reduce your pain and discomfort. Therapeutic massage and other techniques can help target these tense muscles that may be contributing to your headache and nausea symptoms.

Physical Therapy

If you struggle with frequent migraines that cause you debilitating pain and discomfort, a physical therapist may be able to help. Physical therapy helps you decrease your pain, increase your strength, and improve your mobility. A physical therapist will walk you through stretches and exercises that help reduce strain or pressure on your neck, back, and shoulder that may be contributing factors of your migraine symptoms. Stretches and exercises can also help you increase your flexibility and range of motion in your neck and upper body, which can help improve overall functioning. A physical therapist will work with you to address your specific migraine symptoms and develop goals for rehabilitation so you can experience lasting relief from your migraine symptoms.

Preventing Nausea and Vomiting with Migraine Headaches

When you visit a doctor for migraines, you want to experience immediate relief from the pain and discomfort. In addition to working with you on a treatment plan that helps reduce your symptoms, your doctor will also want to help you prevent these symptoms in the future. Because migraines have such debilitating side effects, they can keep you from going about your everyday life. Your doctor can help reduce or even eliminate the frequency of your headache, nausea, and other symptoms. In many cases, there are other contributing factors that may make your migraines worse. By focusing on your whole body and its healthy functioning, you have better chances of preventing migraines in the future. Addressing poor posture, weak muscles, or a recent injury will help you experience longer-lasting relief from symptoms like headaches and nausea.

At AICA Orthopedics, our team of doctors includes orthopedists, chiropractors, physical therapists, neurologists, and surgeons. Our doctors specialize in a variety of areas, so you can always find someone who is highly knowledgeable and skilled about what you’re going through. Visit the Marietta location of AICA Orthopedics and start receiving quality, comprehensive care and support for your migraines. Our team works together in one convenient location so you can do an initial assessment, get any necessary diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans, and meet with a doctor who specializes in treating migraines.

Doctors at AICA Orthopedics in Marietta can help reduce your pain and discomfort from migraine headaches so that you can get back to your regular routines and enjoying your favorite activities. If you have tried at-home remedies and still can’t find lasting relief, talk to our doctors at AICA Orthopedics about the next steps you can take to find lasting pain relief from migraine headaches.


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