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jonsblond's avatar

So you suffer from smiling headaches?

Asked by jonsblond (37351 points ) April 1st, 2010

Are you one of those people that is constantly asked “Why are you sad?”. I am. :( I’m happy dammit! I swear! My face just isn’t showing it for some reason.

Quite often after a wonderful day of smiling I end up with a headache. What causes this?

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23 Answers

chicadelplaya's avatar

Happy muscle tension in your head? Oddly, I’d love to have one of those sometime soon. :)

davidbetterman's avatar

That is quite strange. Perhaps it is because you are smiling when you really don’t mean it.

jonsblond's avatar

@davidbetterman No. I meant it. maybe it was the screaming kids at the playground and lack of water? ;)

I’m not trying to sound like a grouch. I really do get headaches after a day (or night) filled with laughter.

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes, but you really don’t know that the laughter caused it. (as you said, “maybe it was the screaming kids at the playground and lack of water? ;))

jonsblond's avatar

I just noticed “So” is supposed to read “Do” in the title… oops!

Violet's avatar

Oh yes! Especially when people are taking lots of pictures (like at a wedding).
It actually hurts my jaw more than my head, but smiling too much can give me headaches.

Fyrius's avatar

Are you sure it’s caused by smiling, and not just correlated with smiling?
I know that in my case, the sort of setting where I smile a lot – a party or something – is also a sort of setting that wears me out if I spend more than a few hours in it. I’m still not completely confident about handling social interaction, so even when I’m having fun there’ll be some tension involved. At the end of a day like that I’m just tired, which can very well leave me with a headache.
Could that be what happens to you too?

I also often feel my cheek muscles hurting after a day of smiling. I suppose that only makes sense.

gemiwing's avatar

What kind of headache? Throbbing, location etc.

Could be how you smile moves certain muscles and you’re just straining them. Or the muscles by your ears can move sinus/ear bits as well. When my allergies/sinuses are acting up, smiling gives me a sinus headache. I think the movement blocks, hampers etc, my Eustachian tubes and gives me a headache.

XOIIO's avatar

Yes, people always say I look tired or sad, sometimes even upset. I am usually in a good mood, but then I get pissed because theya sked that question.

arnbev959's avatar

YES. This happens to me.

Usually it happens if I’m in a situation where I really don’t want to be smiling or laughing, but for some reason I have to, or I can’t stop. As @gemiwing said, I think it has to do with muscle strain.

Pandora's avatar

When is the last time you checked your blood pressure? Its possible its allergies like @gemiwing suggested, or sinuses, or maybe you have sensativity to light. When we smile and are looking at something we really like our iris open up more than usual and let more light in.
I know what you mean. I would always get asked whats wrong when nothing is wrong. I think in my case is because I would normally be smiling but if I’m consentrating on something my face takes on a serious look (some say I look either angry or concerned) and people aren’t use to seeing me become serious.
I would usually tell people no, I’m not upset or angry or worried, and its just impossible to smile all the time. Doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, just not insane.
It is annoying. Funny thing is when I am unhappy, no one seems to catch the hint.

Kylie's avatar

Not really, but oddly they say smiling makes you feel better. I think that is certainly a myth as in my modelling days I was in foul mood by the time I got home. I do not recall having a headache though. I think if it is forced like any muscle/s it could cause strain.

Fyrius's avatar

@Kylie
Smiling makes you feel better if you subconsciously associate the face muscle sensations of a smile with feeling happy. Which most people do, because most people don’t smile for a living.

wonderingwhy's avatar

The only time I ever got headaches from smiling was when I first started doing trade shows. I’d smile all day and mean it for about two seconds and at the end of the day my head just hurt. Finally, after the second show I just stopped smiling unless I actually had something to smile about and the headaches went away – aside from the ones caused by the egregious amounts of inane conversation.

Perhaps, for you, it’s just a matter of frequency? Just like any exercise, smiling uses muscles, perhaps you’re getting tension headaches from “smiling all day” because those muscles aren’t used to working that much over that period? I’ve had times when I’d laugh so much that my jaw would start to hurt by the end of the evening, maybe it’s similar.

lonelydragon's avatar

I am not sure. Maybe it’s something to do with the exertion of the facial muscles. I’ve been known to get headaches from laughing.

jonsblond's avatar

I’m not a very social person myself, @Fyrius. Tension could very well play a part in the headaches. I’m also sensitive to light like @Pandora suggested, and I do have allergies @gemiwing.

Thank you everyone. Such great answers! This is why I love Fluther. Some of these suggestions didn’t even cross my mind before I asked this. It is also nice to hear that I’m not the only one with this problem.

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

I am more likely to have my face hurt from smiling so much rather than headaces.

ubersiren's avatar

Sure. This was a huge problem for me before I went to massage school. I worked in hotel and had the fake smiley thing going on all day long.

All your facial muscles connect to the bones and tendons of your face and head. Holding any expression for an extended period can cause discomfort.

Try this: Put one hand on the back of your neck. You will feel something in a minute. Keeping your mouth open, flex your jaw muscles. Pretend you’re trying to crunch a piece of hard candy, but don’t let your teeth touch. You can probably feel your neck muscles tensing when you do this. Working your jaw muscles affects your neck muscles. Those neck muscles that you feel tensing can restrict blood flow to your head, causing a headache. It’s the same with your “forehead” muscle. The one that raises your eyebrows. This muscle, and the neck muscles you just felt are actually attached to a large tendon that covers your whole head (it pretty much lies under your hairline). If any of these muscles are tensed, not only is blood flow restricted, but your head bones can shift slightly, causing a headache. Yes your head bones (cranial, jaw, teeth, even down to your neck) are “fused” but they do still shift slightly.

In massage, I love to work on people’s faces. It’s incredible how much we hold tension in our faces and all the muscles that act on or counter the action in our faces, scalp and neck.

The next time you feel this coming on, try to relax all your facial muscles. It takes lots of practice. It’s very hard to do. But try to visualize all the skin and muscles just turning into jelly, or melting off your facial bones and off the top of your head. You’ll look like a sleepy basset hound, but it will make you feel tons better. If you can, lie down and try to relax all your neck muscles, too. You can lessen the headache pain if you can’t get to an aspirin.

jonsblond's avatar

@ubersiren Thank you so much for the advice. I will give this a try tonight!

ubersiren's avatar

Oh, also you can massage your own face. it’ll help loosen up the muscles and make it easier to relax them (and you). Get into those jaw muscles and rub that forehead. Again, you’ll look silly, but it feels so gooooood.

Fenris's avatar

My default expression is boredom with a hint of irritation, so the muscles that pick up the cheeks and mouth sides get really sore, really quick on my face. Doesn’t mean that I don’t mean my happiness, just that those muscles are weak.

lifeflame's avatar

@ubersiren – great pointers! =)

bpool210's avatar

I have the same problem. Too much smiling and I get a headache that starts at the base of my skull and spreads from there (if I keep smiling). I actually get tender spots on the back of my head on each side, straight back from the ears. Massaging these helps, but how can I avoid this problem? Why do I have this problem?

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