eli5 When having a bad headache, why does inhaling 100% pure oxygen help it?

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I read somewhere that oxygen therapy helps headaches, and have no clue how this works.

In: Biology

Anonymous 0 Comments

We do not quite know. Firstly headaches are a vague symptom without any clear chain of cause to effect. So while we can list a lot of things that causes headaches we are not sure what the mechanism behind this is. But it might be something to do with the bloods ability to transport oxygen. For example dehydration causes less blood in your body causing less oxygen to be carried in that blood which cause headaches. And low oxygen conditions as well as carbon monoxide poisoning also causes headaches. If you breathe pure oxygen then your blood might carry more oxygen which could perhaps reduce the headaches.

It should be noted that oxygen therapy only cures the symptom and not the cause. And the thing causing the headaches is likely having other negative effects on your body. So for example if you are hungover a hit of oxygen and some caffeine might make you instantly feel better you should prioritise getting water and rest. In addition your lungs are not handling pure oxygen very well and you will damage them over time.