What Causes a Headache and Fatigue?

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Are you suffering from fatigue and constant headaches that leave you feeling washed out? Read on to explore a few reasons for headaches and fatigue here.

We’ve all felt that dull ache in our heads and that heavy feeling in our eyes from time-to-time. Some of us don’t think about what may be causing it, we simply reach for some water and pain relief, or take a nap and hope we wake up feeling refreshed and clear headed.

However, what is it that causes headache and fatigue? And what can we do to treat it? In this article, we will dive into the reasons behind your headaches, why you’re feeling tired and what you can do to help yourself when headache and fatigue strikes.

What are Headaches?Woman with headache

Headache, that dull aching pain we feel in our head is a result of signals interacting throughout the brain, blood vessels and nerves. These nerves send pain signals to the brain. Most headaches go away on their own and are not a sign of anything serious, or are anything to be too concerned about. They are a very common, and the majority of people will experience a headache many times during their lifetime. The main symptom of headaches is a pain in your head or face, the pain you can experience may feel like a throbbing, sharp or dull ache. Headaches can be the result of dehydration, physical health factors and mental health issues.

What is Fatigue?

Fatigue describes an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It isn’t the same as feeling generally sleepy or drowsy. When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation or energy to do the simplest of tasks. Being sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it is not the same thing. Tiredness is easily relieved by sleep and rest, whereas, fatigue symptoms are often an overwhelming feeling of tiredness that isn’t relieved by sleep or rest.

Fatigue is a lingering tiredness that is constant and limiting. You may wake in the morning and feel as though you haven’t slept and you may feel too exhausted to manage your daily affairs. Fatigue can come as a result of mental health issues, physical health factors, and some lifestyle factors.

What Causes Headache and Fatigue?

Headache and fatigue are share symptoms of many conditions but not all are considered serious, however, some may require some lifestyle changes or ongoing treatment. As you consider what may be the trigger for your symptoms of headache and fatigue, make sure to also consider your lifestyle, including your sleep patterns, diet, how much water you drink daily and any medications you are on.

Here are 5 reasons that could cause both headache and fatigue:

DehydrationWoman yawning

Many people get a headache when they don’t consume enough water because your body doesn’t get enough fluids. Other symptoms of dehydration include sleepiness and fatigue. Dehydration headaches often go away after a few hours after drinking plenty of water. When you’re dehydrated, your brain and other tissues in your body shrink, as the brain shrinks it puts pressure on the nerves which causes the pain we know as being a headache.


One of the most common medical reasons for feeling overwhelming tiredness is an iron deficiency.  Women with heavy periods and pregnant women are especially prone to anaemia. If you don’t have a high content of iron in your diet, you may also be at risk of an iron deficiency, and therefore start to suffer the symptoms of headache and fatigue. It can also affect men and postmenopausal women, typically when you feel as though you’re lacking motivation to do anything.  It is also possible to have too much iron which can also play its part in causing headache and fatigue.


Headache and fatigue are common side effects of various medications. Some medications, including certain blood pressure medications, can lead to headache and fatigue because they can lead to dehydration. Other medications can interfere with your sleep patterns, and a lack of sleep is also associated with headache and fatigue. That is why it is always important to make yourself aware of the possible side affects of certain medications, and to note down if and when you start to show any abnormal symptoms.

Depression and Anxiety

As well as making you feel very sad and tired, depression can also make you feel drained of energy. It can stop you falling asleep or cause you to wake up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day. Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal, but some people have a constant uncontrollable feeling of anxiety, which can sometimes be so apparent that it can affect their day. This is called generalised anxiety disorder, and as well as feeling worried and irritable, people often feel fatigued.


Caffeine is the energy boost we all love and crave.  Although it can make you feel alert and reduce fatigue right after drinking it, caffeine can also interfere with your sleep pattern if you consume too much, or have some just before hitting the hay. Having too little sleep can lead to headache and fatigue.

If you tend to drink caffeinated drinks as part of your daily routine, your body can become dependent on the caffeine, which if you decide to eliminate it from your diet promptly, your body can go into a shock, known as withdrawal symptoms, this can lead to symptoms of headache and fatigue. So, if you’re choosing to ditch the morning coffee, mid-morning coffee, the lunch coffee, the 3pm one and the back from work treat one too, then do so in stages.

How to treat Headache and Fatigue?Man with headache

There are many at home remedies you can try to rid of your headache and fatigue. Try reducing your stress levels through exercise, relaxation, or meditation. When a headache strikes, try using a hot or cold compress on your head for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time, this may ease the pain. While some of the causes of these symptoms, like caffeine withdrawals and dehydration, will go away on their own, other require longer-term management.

If medications are the reason for your headache and fatigue, speak to your doctor and they may switch you to a different medication or lower your dose. Your doctor may also recommend a vitamin supplement, if your vitamin levels are low, but always make sure you are taking the recommended vitamin intake before taking any supplement.

If you feel as though your headache and fatigue symptoms are getting worse and pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen aren’t helping dull your symptoms, then seek immediate advice from a trusted healthcare professional.

Now you know more about what causes headache and fatigue and the best treatments, but you still want to know more about how to relieve your tiredness, then why not read our article on the 5 best vitamins and minerals for energy, next?

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