A headache is pain that can be felt in the head, face, and the upper neck. It is a common and frequently recurring disorder that can seriously disrupt a person's life. Headache pain may be generalized (all over) or localized (in one area) and can range from mild to severe pain. Postural changes, prolonged coughing, sneezing, or exposure to sunlight may contribute to headaches. Sometimes a headache may be a symptom of a serious underlying problem (such as stroke or brain tumor) and may call for prompt medical care. Although painful and annoying, the vast majority of headaches do not indicate a serious disorder. Tension and migraine headaches account for 90% of all headaches.
benign headache common cold fever hangover from alcohol withdrawal head injury head or neck infection (ear infection, pharyngitis or sinusitis) influenza certain medications such as indomethacin, nitrates, and vasodilators premenstrual syndrome (PMS) stress a swollen tooth muscle pain withdrawal from street drugs (marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.)
Tension Headache is a common headache pattern that may or may not be associated with psychosocial stressors. Tension headaches are characterized by:
Vascular Headaches are broken down into two well-known headaches known as migraines and clusters.
Migraine headaches, often preceded by fatigue, depression, and visual disturbance (light flash, loss of peripheral vision, etc.) are characterized by:
Migraines can often last for hours, but rarely last longer than a day or two pain that may be aggravated by stress, alcohol, or certain foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses, and wine are frequently accompanied by nausea and vomiting. These can typically be relieved by adequate sleep.
Cluster headaches (histamine headaches), are headaches which are a variation of the migraine are characterized by:
And, in rare cases, may be caused from cerebral aneurysm, brain tumor, stroke, or meningitis.
Treatment of headaches usually includes taking aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen; whichever is better tolerated.
Drinking plenty of water can also help with headaches and headache prevention. Dehydration is a common cause of some headaches.
If headaches or migraines are recurring, keep a log of potential triggers. Attempt to eliminate the culprit foods, beverages or other causes of these headaches. Consult with a doctor to determine if prescription medications are necessary or to conduct diagnostic medical tests (e.g., MRI, CT scan, blood tests, etc.) to assess for other potential causes of these headaches.