headache: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
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headache: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment


Headache is the most common form of pain that arises from the muscles of the head, neck, and face. Headache is sometimes called brainache because it can sometimes be caused by a problem with the brain.



types of headaches:

There are 10 types of headaches:

Migraine, tension-type headache (TTH), cluster headache (CH), sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, medication overuse headache (MOH), preeclampsia or eclampsia during pregnancy, hypnic jerk or hiccup in sleep apnea sufferers during sleep when dropping carbon dioxide levels induces sudden nerve signals to cause contraction of muscles and trigger a pain response, and brain tumor.


1. Migraine is a throbbing, pulsating, or constant headache. It causes severe pain in the front and temples, sometimes with nausea and vomiting. Migraine can last an hour to 72 hours.

Migraine is usually hereditary and more common in women than men. A migraine attack usually starts without warning at any time of the day or night, but they are more likely to occur after midnight and on school days. Severity (several attacks) indicates the greater risk for a stroke, which can be fatal.


2. Tension-type headache is a recurring and insidious pain that is usually felt in the back of the head or neck. The pain is usually dull and aching, but may also be sharp in nature. It lasts days, weeks, months, or longer with frequent flares (often triggered by stress), and usually goes away without treatment.

Tension-type headache is common in women, but it can occur in men as well. Also, it tends to run in families. Reasons for this may be that genes play a large part; it may also depend on diet and lifestyle factors such as smoking and lack of exercise, caffeine sensitivity (drinking too much coffee), or alcohol use (which relaxes muscles).

Tension-type headache usually occurs in the evening and after a period of stress. There are many possible causes, including spasms in the neck muscles. The treatment for this type of headache varies greatly, but most involve the use of mild pain relievers and rest to prevent stress that may trigger headaches.

3. Cluster is described as "a short-lived, intense attack (usually lasting less than 10 minutes) with severe pain behind one eye or on both sides of the head, lasting up to 24 hours. Cluster headaches begin as one-sided headaches that quickly become bilateral or many sided, or develop into an aura (feeling "as if an explosion is coming"), before ending with severe pain. Cluster headaches are diagnosed by a combination of medical history, specific symptoms, and a physical examination.

4. Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses that becomes painful, can cause fever and breathing problems.

5. MOH – Medication overuse headache is a rare but serious form of headache caused by the use of pain medications (narcotics) such as codeine, narcotics and antidepressants. It usually follows the use of these medications for muscle pain from arthritis or other conditions, or for pain from cancer treatment. The severity of this type of headache appears to be related to how long a person uses these drugs and how often they are used.

6. Preeclampsia or eclampsia is a high blood pressure condition that can occur in the first pregnancy. It is more common in women who have never been pregnant, but also occurs in those who have had one or more previous pregnancies. Preeclampsia often causes: headaches; vomiting; seizures (fever and stiff neck); problems with vision, swallowing (dysphagia), or the kidneys; and coma.

7. Hypnic jerk or hiccup – This is a brief spasm of the muscles of the back of the throat when falling asleep. It is believed to be a nervous reflex that probably evolved to allow people to avoid choking on vomit after drinking alcohol at night. The jerks are most common in the morning and increase with age. They generally stop on their own by 4 to 6 years of age.

8. Brain tumor – This is a condition that affects the brain, but not its functions. In an MRI scan, the medical imaging test, a tumor often appears as a bright spot on the scan with no other obvious cause. In some cases, brain tumors make headaches worse or do not allow people to see clearly or have clear speech or sight (visual field deficit). Surgery to remove a brain tumor may control symptoms or stop them altogether. Brain tumors are mostly found in younger adults, but they can occur at any age.

9. Infections are a cause of headaches, most commonly viral infections such as the flu or chickenpox. Headaches may accompany fever, vomiting, and body aches. Headache itself is not considered a symptom of infection but may be associated with certain types of viruses or bacteria invading the brain.

10. Trauma - head injury can lead to headaches by damaging a number of different structures in the head, including blood vessels and nerves that carry pain signals to the brain. The headache may last for some time after the injury heals.


Causes of headache:

Headaches are common and affect millions of people in the world. Some causes, such as a hangover after a night of heavy drinking, are easy to identify. Other common causes of headaches are more difficult to identify. Many times headaches are experienced by people who do not regularly experience headaches or at times when the headache manifests itself without an obvious reason. 

The reasons for this may be because:

• The pain causes stress and tension in many people and that can cause a headache.

• There is an imbalance in any part of the nervous system which can cause various types of brain irritations (epilepsy).

• There is an imbalance in the flow of blood to the brain through the arteries which can cause subarachnoid hemorrhage.

• Irregular menstrual cycles are often connected to severe headaches.

• Migraine is more common in women than men.

• Headaches may be a symptom of another condition such as: high blood pressure, stroke, migraine, sinusitis, etc.

The excessive use of pain medications (narcotics) can lead to dependence on these drugs and can lead to very serious headaches if they are stopped suddenly.



Getting the right diagnosis is important if you want to get rid of your headache. Many headaches are not a serious condition, but others can be life-threatening. It is important that your headache be diagnosed correctly so that you can get proper treatment. With more than 200 types of headaches, you may need to see several health care providers before you find relief.

Headache specialists, such as neurologists and other doctors who have extra training and experience in diagnosing and treating headaches, are the best first step for an accurate diagnosis of a headache. They will ask you questions and conduct a physical examination.

Blood tests, urine tests and imaging studies such as CT scans or MRIs may be used to help complete the diagnosis.

You are not alone if you experience headaches on a regular basis. Many people report having headaches with no obvious cause. You can usually reduce the frequency and severity of your headache with treatment, which may involve medication, relaxation exercises and lifestyle changes.



Treatments for recurring and chronic headache are aimed at reducing or eliminating pain.

In the case of recurrent headaches, a number of pharmacological treatments may be needed to prevent the onset of headache pain. The symptomatic treatment of choice for migraine is a triptan medication, which can abort an attack in 20 minutes or less in well over 50% of patients in clinical trails. If a triptan does not work for you, another one may be tried; often several types can be tried before failing in acute attacks.

The concept behind "preventive treatment" is that it will reduce the frequency and/or severity of future attacks if given on a regular basis during periods when headaches occur more frequently. The drugs used most commonly for prevention of headache are anti-epileptic drugs, beta-blockers (propanolol), antidepressants and anticonvulsants.

Treatment also may include keeping a headache diary; this will become very important in order to learn what is happening with your headaches. Some patients can be amazed at the number and types of triggers that they discover. Often avoiding or at least minimizing a specific trigger can help prevent future headaches.


Headaches are one of the most common diseases in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that there are over 1 billion people in the world who have chronic headaches, with a large portion of those people experiencing some form of migraine disorder that interferes with their everyday lives.

Many people who have headaches attribute their headaches to low blood pressure, but in fact, many different things can cause a headache, so the cause of your headache should be determined. In some cases, an underlying brain disorder is responsible for the pain.

Certain courses of action may be considered to determine whether or not aspirin is the treatment that works best for your type of headache:

If you take aspirin regularly (every other day or every day), it's possible that you are experiencing a placebo response due to your body's reaction to those medications. If you have taken the medication regularly for several months and still experience ongoing headaches and no relief with treatment, this condition may be considered a headache disorder rather than a placebo response.


headache on left side of head:

 Most headache sufferers seek relief through medication, and the majority consider their headaches to be much better today than they were a year ago. Headache experts say that only 30% of those who suffer from chronic headaches find relief through medication.

You can take over-the-counter pain medications if you have a headache lasting less than 7 days, or you may need prescription pain medications to treat longer term headaches. You should not take ibuprofen if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. You may also feel dizzy when taking pain pills, or have a bad reaction like nausea–so it is best to talk with your doctor if you are having trouble with these side effects. If you have more than one type of headache, your doctor may recommend a drug for a specific type of headache.

you can take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help ease the pain during an episodic migraine attack.

For prevention, Triptans (drugs in the sumatriptan family) and beta-blockers are often used. If you are over 40 or have been experiencing headaches for more than 15 years, your doctor may prescribe stronger preventive medications such as amitryptyline or topiramate as well.


headache on right side of head:

 One in four adults has a diagnosable headache disorder. If you count all the so-called tension headaches and migraines, that’s more than half of all Americans. For them, headaches are not merely “bad feelings” or “not quite right feelings.” Instead, they can be debilitating symptoms that make it difficult to concentrate, sleep or perform everyday tasks. Fortunately, effective treatments exist for these disorders and they can significantly reduce pain and improve quality of life for those who suffer with them.

For almost a decade, the American Headache Society (AHS) has been diligently working to improve the lives of those who suffer with headaches. Around the world, headache specialists have joined forces to advance research and improve treatment programs. The AHS will also be responsible for bringing you the latest developments in understanding and treating headaches through their series of national conferences, regular newsletters and publications.

The website will serve as a much needed resource for people who are just beginning their search for information on headaches or who are looking for assistance with a particularly challenging headache problem. The site will feature special sections where you can read about the latest developments in headache research or find tips on how to stay in control of your headaches and their symptoms.


headache on top of head:

Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist if your headaches are more severe, accompanied by vision changes, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or problems with balance or coordination. A brain scan, called a CT scan, could be done to see what condition is causing your headaches and how serious it is.


A good doctor will use these additional tests to determine what’s “down there” but often this other test can run up the cost of treating your headache. For example, the brain MRI can only be done once every 1-2 years and is easily $700-$900 per procedure. A CT scan of the head is less than half that cost, but still over $300.


medicine for headache:

There are many drugs available for the treatment of headache disorders. You should discuss these with your doctor as each person reacts differently to them. If you experience nausea, dizziness, or drowsiness with the medication, there are alternatives that may work better for you.

All medicines come with possible side effects and it is important to know what they are and what they could mean for your health. It is also important to know that the common side effects don’t affect everyone; our bodies have unique characteristics and reactions to medicines. Some people have no reactions at all, while others might be allergic or sensitive to various medications. Some people experience side effects that may be minor and short-lived, while others may encounter negative reactions similar (but not identical) to those experienced after an allergic reaction.

There are four kinds of headaches. One is a tension headache, a type of migraine headache. Another is an episodic or common tension headache, which is often called a “one-a-day” headache. The third kind of headache is one that might occur as often as three times a week, and often accompanies another condition called cluster headaches. The last kind of headache is referred to as “chronic daily headaches” or CCCHs.




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