A headache is pain or discomfort in or around the head and face. Headaches can vary greatly in terms of the location and intensity of the pain, and how often it can occur. The brain tissue doesn’t have pain-sensitive nerve fibers and doesn’t feel pain. But, other parts of the head can be responsible for a headache. These parts may include either or many of the following:
- Nerves that extends over the scalp
- Nerves in the face, mouth, and throat
- Muscles around the head, neck, and shoulders
- Blood vessels found along the surface and at the base of the brain
Types of Headache
There are different types of headaches depending upon the portion and muscles that hurt.
Migraines are a severe type of headache. Its symptoms occur other than pain as part of the headache. Nausea and vomiting, light-headedness, sensitivity to light or photophobia, and other visual symptoms typically come along with migraine pain. Migraines may also have distinct phases.
2. Tension headaches
Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headache. It is caused by stress and tight muscles that factors in tension-type headaches. The pain may also involve the back part of the head and neck.
3. Cluster headaches
Cluster headaches usually occur in a series that may last weeks or even months.The most common symptoms of a cluster headache are severe pain on one side of the head, usually behind one eye, swelling of the eye, and runny nose or congestion.
4. Secondary Headaches
A secondary headache is mostly a symptom of some disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number of conditions, varying greatly in severity, may cause secondary headaches. Possible causes of secondary headaches include acute sinusitis or nasal and sinus infection.
Diagnosis of Headache
If you are someone who is experiencing a severe and prolonged headache, visit your doctor. He/she will do a comprehensive medical evaluation and diagnostic testing to figure out the reason behind your ache. The doctor might also ask about your medical history to do a physical exam and certain tests. Tests used to find the cause of a headache may include the following:
- Blood tests
- Sinus x-rays
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan)
Treatment of Headache
The goal of treatment is to stop headaches from occurring altogether. Migraine and cluster headaches may need specific medicine management including:
- Abortive medicines
- Rescue medicines
- Preventive medicines
When should you call the doctor?
Most headaches can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if that is not happening then call your healthcare provider right away, especially in case of severe headache that is accompanied by:
- Stiff neck
- Shortness of breath
- Change in level of consciousness