What Is A Headache
Headaches are an unpleasant pain in the head. The forehead, temples, and back of the neck are areas where a headache can occur. Pain can range from mild to severe. It occurs in tension-type headaches, migraine, and cluster headaches.
What Types Of Headaches
There are more than 150 types of headaches, but the most common include:
- Tension Headache: Often called stress headaches are one of the most common types that occur in adults. People who suffer from tension headaches experience dull pain, pressure, or tightness in the forehead or the back of the head and neck. It affects about 21. 8 % of the population.
- Migraine Headache: Migraine type of headaches are a type of a primary headache, which may cause significant daily pain and disability, but they are not life-threatening. It can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. A migraine can last from hours to days. That type of headache usually begins in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. It may progress through 4 stages:
- Prodrome: Subtle changes that point to an upcoming migraine can occur one or two days before a migraine. Those changes include:
– sudden mood changes, neck stiffness, selective hunger, increased thirst, and urination, frequent yawning
- Aura: Auras are symptoms of the nervous system. They are usually visual and hearing disturbances, such as flashes of light or wavy vision and ringing in ears. Auras often start an hour or more before a headache and can affect your other senses:
– Vision loss, seeing zigzag patterns or flashing lights, blind spots, hearing and smelling disturbances, numbness, tingling, word-finding difficulty and speech disturbances, motion disorder.
- Attack: If untreated, migraines usually last from 4 hours to 72 hours. Migraine attacks can strike several times a month or may be rare. During a migraine person can experience:
– Pain on one side or both sides of the head, pulsing or throbbing pain, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, lightheadedness, sometimes followed by fainting.
- Postdrome: This is the final phase, which occurs after a migraine attack and can last up to 48 hours. During this phase, a person can experience:
– Weakness, confusion, dizziness, moodiness, sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells.
- Cluster Headache: CH is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, severe headaches on one side of the head, usually around the eye. “There is often accompanying eye-watering, nasal congestion, or swelling around the eye, on the affected side. These symptoms typically last 15 minutes to 3 hours. Attacks often occur in clusters that typically last for weeks or months and occasionally more than a year.” CH may be more severe than a migraine, but it usually doesn’t last as long. It seems that the attacks are connected with the circadian rhythm, so it may occasionally be referred to as ” alarm clock headaches, ” because of the regularity of their recurrence, which may awaken individuals from sleep.
Secondary Headaches: SH is caused by another condition. The term is used to distinguish this type of headache from the primary headache disorders like a migraine, tension-type headache, or a cluster headache. It can be caused by general medical conditions such as severe hypertension or conditions that affect the brain, various infections ( meningitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis ), head trauma, tumor, subdural hematoma, hydrocephalus, blood vessel problems.
- Hormonal fluctuations associated with menstrual cycles or pregnancy.
- Foods like chocolate, dairy products, peanut butter, citrus fruits,…
- Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame,…
- Alcohol& tobacco
- Weather changes
- Intense physical effort, eg sexual activity
- Sensorial stimuli- flashing lights, bright light, sun glare, loud sounds, strong smells
- Lack of sleep
- Medications- contraceptives, vasodilators ( eg nitroglycerin )
What Causes Headache
- Genetics and environmental factors
- Abnormal brain activity which causes a temporary change in nerve signals, chemicals ( serotonin deficiency ), and blood flow to the brain.
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