Headaches and nausea are common and sometimes occur together. A common cause of headache and nausea is migraine, which can also cause dizziness. Treatment and prevention will vary depending on the underlying causes.
This article explores the common causes of both headaches and nausea, and some underlying issues that are less common and more serious.
It also discusses treatments and ways to prevent the symptoms.
Migraine is a common cause of both headache and nausea. According to a 2015 review, around
A migraine feels like a moderate or severe headache. The pain is often throbbing and located on one side of the head. During a migraine, a person may also experience:
- sensitivity to light or sound
Other common causes of headache and nausea include:
- the flu
- a cold
- food allergies
- excessive consumption of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
Types of headaches that can cause nausea
Different types of headaches can cause nausea. These include:
- migraine with aura
- migraine without aura
- cluster headache
Conditions that can cause nausea and headaches
- the flu, stomach flu, or common cold
- stress, depression, or anxiety
- excessive use of nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol
- food allergies
- food poisoning
- strep throat
- premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Another common cause of a headache and nausea is low blood sugar, which can result from:
- not eating enough
- drinking alcohol in excess
- hormonal deficiencies
- liver or kidney disease
- overuse of diabetes medications
- certain medications
Other causes of concurrent headaches and nausea are more severe and may require urgent medical treatment. Understanding the full range of causes is essential, as it can enable a person to seek the right treatment in time.
More serious causes
Headaches and nausea are symptoms of the following severe conditions and injuries:
One explanation is that migraine affects nerve pathways that stimulate the part of the brain that controls vomiting. A
Another theory relates to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that affects:
- social behavior
- sex drive
- taking pain-relieving medication
- lying in a quiet, dark room
- laying a warm cloth on the forehead
- putting a cold compress on the back of the neck
- trying complementary treatments, such as aromatherapy, acupuncture, or acupressure
- taking antinausea medication
- getting fresh air
- trying meditation
- sticking to bland foods and small portions
If a person has a severe, sudden headache and no history of migraine, they should speak with a doctor.
Contact a doctor right away if a headache and nausea follow a blow to the head.
Also, seek medical attention if headaches grow worse over time or accompany any of the following symptoms:
- loss of consciousness
- blurred vision
- a fever
- trouble speaking
- feeling dizzy or confused
- having a stiff neck
- vomiting that occurs sporadically for more than 1 day
- not urinating for more than 8 hours
It may not always be possible to prevent headaches and nausea. However, the following may help:
- stopping smoking
- reducing caffeine and alcohol intakes
- reducing the effects of stress through mindfulness, meditation, or yoga
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding foods that have previously triggered a migraine episode
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- practicing good hygiene to avoid colds, the flu, or the stomach flu
- taking plenty of breaks from looking at screens
- getting enough exercise
Migraine is a common cause of headaches that occur with nausea. Dehydration and low blood sugar are also frequently responsible.
Some causes are more serious. Several affect the brain, such as meningitis, brain aneurysms, and tumors. These issues typically feature additional symptoms.
Anyone who is worried or unsure about the cause of their headaches and nausea should speak with a doctor.