Headaches

There are two types of headaches, primary and secondary. Primary headaches are not associated with other diseases, for example migraine headaches, tension headaches and cluster headaches. An associated disease, sometimes life threatening conditions such as brain tumors, strokes, and meningitis or less, causes secondary headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headaches. Nearly 90% of adults have suffered from such headaches.

  • Tension headaches begin in the back of the head and upper neck.
  • Often described as a band of pressure encircling the head with the most intense pain over eyebrows.
  • The pain is usually mild, and affects both sides of the head.
  • May occur sporadically, or even daily, but most people can still function within their daily routine.

The second most common type of primary headaches is a migraine - an estimated 28 million people in the U.S. experience migraines.

  • Usually described as intense, throbbing or pounding pain in the temple, around eyes or forehead.
  • The pain is usually only on one side of the head
  • Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Facial Pallor, cold hands, cold feet and sensitivity to light and sound all can be symptoms of migraine headaches.
  • A typical attack can last 4 to 72 hours.
  • Symptoms prior to migraine attack may be: Sleepiness, Irritability, Fatigue, Depression, Euphoria, Yawning, Craving Sweet or Salty foods.

Cluster Headaches are a rare form of primary headache and affect only about 0.1% of the population and often begin in childhood. They are more common in men, while migraine and tension sufferers are more often women (note that men and women do suffer from all 3 types of headache).

  • Usually come in groups (clusters) that can last for weeks or months, in periods that last about half-an-hour.
  • Likely the pain is excruciating and is behind the eyes.

While Migraine headaches are caused by a release of chemicals from nerve fibers around blood vessels, the causes of cluster headache and tension headaches are largely unknown.

If you or a loved one experience constant headaches, it is a good idea to see a doctor. In rare cases, a headache can be a sign of a much more serious disease. However, if you find your symptoms are consistent with the common headache, please review the links provided below, for helpful treatment options and known headache triggers.

For more information on Headaches, see the following websites:

MedicineNet on headaches, migraines, diagnosis, treatment plans and medications

The National Headache Foundation

Medlineplus lists causes with helpful illustration, treatment options and home remedies

Women’s Health with advice for women suffering from chronic headaches and migraines

National Migraine Association with an article describing the “ice pick” headaches sufferers

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