All About Headache and Migraine Triggers in Older Adults

Headaches happen for many reasons in any part of our head. It may cause sharp pain for moments at a time or dull pain consistently throughout the day. They can occur progressively or abruptly and may last several hours.

Those that are suffering with headaches and migraines will likely experience them less as they age.

For that reason, it is essential for seniors who have headaches to research the triggers since they are less common in older adults and may be the sign of an illness more severe.

Headache Triggers in Seniors

Frequent headaches that take place over 50 may be due to an underlying sickness if there are no obvious triggers.

Listed before are several factors that may be the reason for a headache or migraine.

Trigger #1: Dehydration

For seniors, a typical cause of headaches is due to dehydration. If this is the case then there will typically be other dehydration symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and dry mouth.

If you do have any of these symptoms as well, it is likely that dehydration is the cause. Always try to drink the recommended eight glasses of water each day.

Trigger #2: Medication Side Effects

Medications that could trigger headaches and migraines can include hormone replacement medications, birth control medications, and blood pressure medications.

Overuse of over-the-counter medications can also lead to frequent headaches.

Trigger #3: Smoking Cigarettes

Smoking is a very common triggers of headaches for people of all ages. Senior smoking is also likely to cause migraines, especially when smoking in excess.

Nicotine alters the blood vessels within the brain and tobacco smoke can aggravate nerves in the throat, both of which can also induce headaches.

Trigger #4: Alcohol

Any kind of alcoholic drink can result in a migraine, however some varieties of alcohol are even worse than others, particularly mixed drinks.

The very best advice is to drink in small amounts and steer clear of any kind of alcoholic drink that has caused headaches before.

Trigger #5: Bright Light

One common symptom of a migraine is sensitivity to bright lights. Flashing lights and bright lights are two common triggers and can make current headaches much worse.

To help prevent a headache, you can wear sunglasses when around bright lights.

Trigger #6: Stress

Stress might be the most common headache trigger among older adults. Some significant reasons for stress and anxiety include major life changes, grief, and mental fatigue.

In terms of the elderly, there are a number of causes of senior stress, such as the death of a spouse, loss of independence, and physical weakness to name a few.

Untreated stress has been found to worsen existing medical conditions that senior citizens frequently suffer from, triggering even more stress which leads to more headaches.


If you are an older adult over the age of 50, you shouldn’t overlook a headache. Visit your doctor as soon as you can for professional medical advice, especially if there isn’t any obvious triggers.

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