ZocdocAnswersWhy do I wake up in the morning with headaches?

Question

Why do I wake up in the morning with headaches?

I am a 19 year old woman, and for the past couple of months I have woken up in the morning with a headache. At first I thought it was maybe I was getting sick with a sinus infection or something, but when I continued to get the headaches without anymore signs of getting sick I started to worry. I have not gone to the doctor, but I do end up taking Tylenol quite a bit now in hopes that it will help but most of the time it doesn't seem to work.

Answer

Headaches are common in women your age, but your pattern of headache needs evaluated by a physician soon. I'll explain why. The most common types of headaches are migraines and tension headaches. Migraines typically are one sided and throbbing, often made worse by loud noises and light. Tension headaches are both sided, constant pain, and are brought on by stress. Both of these can appear in the morning. However, some brain tumors can cause headaches which start in the morning and get better throughout the day. This is why you may need to have your head imaged to make sure this is not the cause. Finally, if you snore a lot, you may have sleep apnea which can cause a morning headache. I suggest that your first step should be to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your headaches including the type of pain, when they come on, and what makes them go away or appear. Your doctor can also perform a thorough physical exam including a full neurological exam to look for any signs that may point to the type of headache. Finally, you may warrant a head MRI to make sure that the more rare causes of morning headaches such as brain tumors are ruled out.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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