What is a headache?
Headache can be defined as a pain that arises from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the structure that surrounds skull or the brain because the brain itself does not have nerves that produce the sensation of pain (pain fibres).
Headache also originates from tissues, which is the thin layer of tissue (periosteum) that surrounds bones, muscles that encase the skull, ears, eyes, sinuses, as well as thin tissues that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord, nerves, veins, arteries and all can become irritated or inflamed and cause headache.
Classification of headache
Basically, there are three main categories of headache based on the source of the pain
What are primary headaches?
Primary headaches include cluster headaches, migraine, and tension as well as a variety of other less common types of headaches.
These are a rare type of primary headache. It affects men more in their late 20’s. Children and women can also suffer from this type of headache
These are the second most common type of primary headaches. It affects both children and adults.
These are the most common type of primary headaches. Tension headaches affect women more than men. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 20 people in the developed world such as, Lower North Shore, Crows Nest, Inner West, Inner East etc. suffer from tension headaches daily.
What are secondary headaches?
Secondary headaches are headaches that result from an underlying structural or infectious problem in the neck or head. This is a medical condition that ranges from dental pain due to infected teeth or pain from an infected sinus, bleeding in the brain or infections like meningitis or encephalitis
What is cranial neuralgia, facial pain, and other headaches?
Cranial neuralgia can be defined as an inflammation of one of 12 cranial nerves emanating from the brain that controls the muscles and carry sensory signals to and from the neck and head.
Other types of headaches
Causes of headaches
The pain you feel when you have a headache emanates from a mix of signals between your brain, blood vessels, and nearby nerves. There are specific nerves in your head muscles and blood vessels that switch on and send pain signals to your brain.
Mentioned below are some common causes of headaches:
Some headaches, especially migraine headaches, tend to run in families. Most adolescents, university students, children, athletes, and teens (90%) who have migraine headaches have family members who are also suffering from it.
Stress due to depression, emotional disorder, skipping meals, changes in sleep patterns, and taking too much medication can cause headache. Other causes include back or neck pain due to poor posture.
Illness such as, infections, colds, and fevers can lead to headache. Headaches also result from medical conditions like sinusitis, throat infection, or ear infection.
Environmental factors including strong smells from household chemicals or perfumes, allergens, second-hand tobacco smoke etc can also cause headache.
When to see your doctor
In most cases, headaches go away within 48 hours. If you suffer from headache that lasts more than two days with increased intensity, you are advised to see your doctor for medical treatment.
If you have headache that lasts more than 15 day in a month over a period of three months, it may be a signal that you have chronic headache condition. You are advised to see your doctor for medical assistance.
How are headaches treated?
The type of treatment you need for your headache is based on a lot of things, which include the type of headache you are suffering from, how often and its cause. Your doctor will prepare a treatment plan to meet your specific needs.