Why Does Crying Cause Headaches?

While some of us cry (or admit to it) more than others, not all tears have the same meaning. According to Healthline, we cry different types of tears. Emotional tears come from what you're feeling. Whether it's joy, sadness, or anger, emotional tears serve as a way of communicating your feelings to others. When you slam your hand in the car door, you may not be able to verbally express that you're in pain, but your tears are a sign that notifies others something is wrong. Basal tears serve as a natural eyewash when your eyes come in contact with irritants like smoke and allergens.

For some situations in life, a good crying session is effective for relieving stress and tension. Crying can release endorphins that help soothe physical and emotional pain, help you to recover from grief, and give you emotional balance (via Healthline). Although crying has its benefits, sometimes your flood of tears is followed by a pounding headache.

Your tears and the stress of crying can cause a headache

Have you ever noticed that not only do you need a tissue for your eyes when you cry, but you need one for your nose, too? According to Medical News Today, when you cry, some of the tears enter your nasal passages, giving you a runny nose. Your tears coupled with mucus can create pressure inside of the sinuses and create a sinus headache. In addition to your headache, you may experience tenderness over the sinuses of the forehead, nose, and other areas of the face. 

Crying can also contribute to a tension headache. The stress of the situation that is bringing you to tears can cause the muscles around your head, neck, and shoulders to tighten up, creating tension in your head (via Medical News Today). According to the Mayo Clinic, a tension headache can feel like a tight band around your head, and you may experience tenderness on the scalp, neck, and upper back muscles.

Emotional tears can trigger a migraine headache, which is usually only felt on one side of the head (via Medical News Today). In addition, people experiencing a migraine may also be sensitive to light and/or sound and have nausea or vomiting. A massage, over-the-counter medication, or just relaxing in a dark room may help you recover from a headache that comes from crying.