Headache

  1. What is a headache?

    Headache is the common name given to pain occurring in the head and occasionally in the neck and upper back. The pain is the result of the blood vessel dilatation in the head-neck region, muscle spasms, pathologies of the mandibular joint and tension on the scalp. Although headaches might be considered as pain in the brain, due to lack of sensation in this organ, headaches are perceived through membranes surrounding the brain, bones that build the skull, muscles and nerves originating from the brain stem.

  2. What are the main causes of headaches?

    Headaches can be categorized into two main groups: primary and secondary headaches. Any headache caused by an illness is categorized under 'secondary headaches'. Headaches that are not caused by a disease fall in the 'primary headache' category.

    Primary headaches include migraines, tension and cluster headaches while secondary headaches include instances such as head and neck injuries, cerebrovascular diseases, brain tumors and infections, sinusitis, increased intracranial pressure that might cause death or serious permanent damage if they go untreated.

  3. What are some types of Primary Headache?

    The most common type that makes more than 50% of all headaches is the tension-type headache. However, migraine is also observed more frequently than expected and it is more frequently observed in women. There are also other less encountered rare types of headaches such as cluster-headaches and chronic daily headaches.

    Tension-type headache

    It consists of headaches mostly occurring bilaterally on the neck and head region, on the temples and muscles, described as heaviness, compression or pressure felt on the head. It is the most frequently observed type of headache. A tension occurs on the neck and head muscles caused by spasms due to stress, fatigue or other various reasons. It can last 5-10 minutes up to days continuously in certain cases. Rare and sporadic pain can turn into a chronic and uncomfortable condition.

    Migraine

    It may be observed in several different ways, usually in a throbbing character that only affects one side of the head. The pain may also be accompanied by a sensitivity towards light and sound, nausea and vomiting. Patients usually prefer staying in a quiet and dark room. Headaches occur in an attack form, with vision impairment in the beginning (in aura-types) while head movement and physical activity aggravate the pain.

    It is a severe form of headache that impacts daily activities and does not respond easily to medication. It requires special treatment and follow-up.

    Cluster-headaches

    They are excruciating headaches that feel like intense sharp throbbing in one side of the head often felt on the eyes and temples. They only last for minutes however might occur several times during the day and cause redness, watering on the affected eye, shrinking of the pupil, nasal congestion and discharge.

  4. What are emergencies in headaches ?

    Consult emergency care immediately if the headache is sudden and intense, accompanied by fever and vomiting and any changes in consciousness and inclination to sleep are observed

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