Headache and Vomiting – What may be the Cause?

There are times when you might have a Headache and Vomiting occurring together. The intensity for both might vary but this can indicate some serious medical conditions sometimes other times this can just be due to low blood glucose levels. These are possible causes of Headache and Vomiting to co-exist :

  1. Migraine
  2. Meningitis
  3. Encephalitis
  4. Brain Abscess
  5. Brain Aneurysm
  6. Tumor
  7. Post-Traumatic Headache
  8. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
  9. Dengue Fever
  10. Glaucoma
  11. Hypoglycemia
  12. Tension Headache
  13. Hypertension Headache
  14. Hypotension Headache
  15. Hormonal Headache
  16. Headache during Pregnancy

1- Migraine

Migraine is a powerful headache that is characterized by throbbing pain mostly occurring in one half of the head. This is mostly caused due to the release of neurotransmitters that cause vasodilation of blood vessels in the scalp and brain. Excess of neurotransmitters causes inflammation and sensation of pain which is presented in the form of headache and vomiting presents as an associated symptom.


  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and smell
  • Stomach ache and diarrhea in a few cases
  • Loss of appetite and fatigue
  • Blurred vision and tinnitus in Migraines with Aura.


  • Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen is taken for pain relief.
  • Excedrin is a good medication.
  • Triptans have proved to have an important role in the construction of blood vessels of the scalp that cause a headache.
  • Metoclopramide is an antibiotic that works well for nausea and vomiting.

2- Meningitis

Inflammation of protective layers around the brain and spinal cord due to some sort of infection causes fever, Headache, and Vomiting.


  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Lack of coordination


To prevent any sort of bacterial infection children are vaccinated at the time of birth. To treat an acute attack IV antibiotics and corticosteroids are given.

3- Encephalitis

Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain itself which is mostly due to viral infections but there can be other causes as well.


  • Fever and headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Neurological symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, numbness, and paralysis.


Encephalitis caused due to viral causes self-limiting and only symptomatic support is given.

4- Brain Abscess

Accumulation of infected fluid in the brain causes an increase in intracranial pressure which can lead to Headache and Vomiting. This is a life-threatening complication and requires immediate medical support.


  • High-grade fever
  • Neck stiffness and altered mentation
  • Neurological dysfunction
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fainting


In most cases, a brain abscess is drained and antibiotics are given through both IV and oral route.

5- Brain Aneurysm

A weakened blood vessel wall can sometimes dilate and form an aneurysm inside the brain. This is generally asymptomatic but becomes life-threatening once it ruptures.


  • Sudden onset of severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurry vision and photophobia
  • Loss of consciousness and seizures


A brain aneurysm is mostly diagnosed through MRI scan, CT scan or a CTA

6- Tumor

Abnormal growth in the brain cell is known as a brain tumor. This can occur in any form of cells and can be benign or malignant. Headache and vomiting present as the most common symptoms once the tumor grows to a size large enough to press on surrounding nerves and blood vessels.
In most cases the continuous fever, Headache and Vomiting force a person to seek medical help and get diagnosed with a tumor.

7- Post-Traumatic Headache

Mild, moderate, or severe trauma to the brain or even nerves from the spinal cord can cause severe Headache and Vomiting as an associated symptom. Any sort of traumatic injury can lead to an imbalance between neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly substance P and Serotonin which leads to the development of a Post-Traumatic Headache. Along with that, any trauma can cause swelling of brain structures which causes increased intracranial pressure and thus Headache.


  • Throbbing Headache like migraine
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration Problems
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Decreased Reaction time
  • Anterograde Amnesia

8- Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

An Aneurysm can sometimes rupture and cause Subarachnoid Hemorrhage which leads to the severe onset of a Headache and Vomiting along with it. Most people call this “the worst headache of their lives” and is better known as Thunderclap Headache.


  • Confusion.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Numbness and weakness.
  • Seizures.


Your doctor might have to operate to clear all the pooled blood.

9- Dengue Fever

Dengue is an infectious disease that spreads by the Aedes Agypti mosquito and causes High-grade fever. The fever is associated with Headache and vomiting and has two phases; Classic fever and Hemorrhagic fever.


  • Pain in joints
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Low platelet count
  • High bleeding tendencies
  • Pain behind eyes


  • Take Acetaminophen for fever and pain relief.
  • Stay hydrated.

10- Glaucoma

Abnormally high Intraocular pressure can lead to compression of the Optic Nerve that leads to loss of vision and development of glaucoma. It is the major cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 years.


  • Severe eye pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around the eyes


Laser eye treatment and Surgery are the only treatment options along with ocular pressure-lowering drugs.

11- Hypoglycemia

A drop in blood glucose levels causes the release of excessive stress hormones such as Cortisol that triggers headaches, mainly a Fasting Headache.


  • Headache and Vomiting
  • Tremors in hands
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Agitation and Loss of Coordination
  • Low mood and low energy


Over-the-Counter Analgesics: Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen.

12- Tension Headache

Tension Headache presents as a tight band of pressure around the head which is mostly caused due to Anxiety and Stress.


  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Pain in temples.
  • Tenderness over the skull vault.
  • Tenderness at the occiput.
  • Sleep disturbances.


  • Over the counter analgesics for pain relief
  • The treatment depends on the cause. Tension headaches caused by tiredness can be relieved simply by taking physiotherapy sessions, having a massage, or taking hot showers.

13- Hypertension Headache

Hypertension causes increased pressure on the brain and leakiness of blood vessels in the brain, disrupting the blood-brain barrier and resulting in Hypertension Headache.


  • The pressure at the back of Head and shoulders.
  • Nosebleeding
  • Flushed face
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhages.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vertigo


  • Beta-blockers: Propanolol
  • Calcium channel blockers: Amlodipine.
  • Potassium channel blockers: Amiodarone.
  • Antidiuretics: Chlorpromazine.
  • Vasodilators: Captopril.

14- Hypotension Headache

Blood Pressure equal to or lower than 90/60 can be stated as Low B.P. Very less blood flow toward the brain can lead to ischemic shock which releases inflammatory mediators that cause Hypotension Headache.


  • Oral rehydration serum is given to combat dehydration.
  • Hypovolemia can be treated by giving IV fluids and blood transfusions.
  • Any sort of medicine that might be causing Hypotension can be stopped for the time being.

15- Hormonal Headache

Oestrogen affects some headache-related chemicals in the brain along with the regulation of the menstrual cycle. With the fluctuating levels of estrogen, the normal working of these chemicals gets affected causing Hormone Headache. Some people on contraception experience a decreased frequency of headaches. Hormonal contraception controls the natural drop in estrogen levels just before menstruation.

17- Headache during Pregnancy

The major cause of Headache during pregnancy is hormonal changes, throughout the gestational period. These hormonal changes along with other causes such as Dehydration, Hypertension, and drastic weight changes can trigger a Headache and Vomiting during pregnancy.


  • You can take a low dose of Paracetamol (Tylenol).


When should I consult the doctor?

As the Headache and Vomiting persist even after taking an analgesic and an anti-emetic. Also, look for other associated symptoms that might indicate other underlying problems.

How much vomiting is too much vomiting?

If you vomit more than once in a day and you can feel other symptoms of diarrhea, you should know that it is getting serious.

How are Headache and Vomiting related?

Headache is a pain in the head and vomiting is a GI disorder. Both of these occur simultaneously in some of the disorders which might show both these symptoms.