Why Do You Get a Headache After Crying?

Desperate woman getting support from her best friend
The pain can be physical and emotional. (Image: oneinchpunch/iStock/GettyImages)

The pain of crying stems from more than just the emotional distress you're in. Once you have finished, you might experience a throbbing headache that's liable to make you tear up again.

Researchers aren't entirely sure what causes a headache after you cry, but it can be treated like any other headache you might experience.

Cause of Crying Headaches

Headaches after you cry could be the result of two things, but one is much more likely than the other. You could be getting a headache from dehydration, but it's much less likely than the headache being caused by the stress, anxiety and tension of the situation that got you crying in the first place.

If you have sinus problems, crying can irritate your sinuses, bringing on a sinus headache that causes dull, throbbing pain between your eyes.

What You Might Feel

Crying can lead to a dull ache in your head. You may also feel pressure around your forehead or on the sides and back of your head. Your headache may cause your shoulders, neck and scalp to feel tender.

A headache caused by crying may be accompanied by dehydration symptoms. If you experience dizziness, extreme thirst or dry mouth along with your headache, you may be dehydrated. In severe cases, dehydration causes muscle contractions, low blood pressure and bloating.

Preventing the Headaches

Prevent headaches when crying by avoiding dehydration. Drink plenty of water after a bout of crying to replace fluid loss and prevent headaches. Women should drink 50 ounces of water per day, while men should drink 70 ounces of water daily to avoid dehydration headaches. Avoid using alcohol while you are crying, and it can further lead to dehydration and headaches.

How to Feel Better

The first line of defense against a crying-induced headache is like any other — take an over-the-counter painkiller with a full glass of water. Drinking water may relieve your headache if it was caused by dehydration due to crying.

If you have frequent headaches and frequent episodes of crying, consider seeing a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe prescription headache medication to treat your symptoms. Your doctor may also discuss your reasons for crying and talk to you about antidepressant medications.

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