What is headache?


Know the basics

What is headache?

Headache is the pain that occurs in any region of the head. It can occur on either side of the head and be isolated to a certain region. It can be throbbing, sharp or dull, can appear gradually or suddenly and can last for a few hours to days.

There are two types of headaches:

  • Primary headaches are not associated with other diseases. For example: migraine headaches, tension headaches and cluster headaches.
  • Secondary headaches are caused by other diseases.

How common is headache?

This health condition is one of the most common symptoms experience by humans. It can affect patients at any age and gender. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of headache?

Depending on the type of headache, the symptoms can be different.

Some common symptoms of tension headache are:

  • The pain range from mild to moderate;
  • The pain affects the whole head;
  • The pain is always present throughout the day;
  • Headache upon wakening;
  • Fatigue;
  • Difficulty in concentration;
  • Mild sensitivity to light and noise;
  • General muscle aching.

Some common symptoms of migraines headache are:

  • The pain range from moderate to severe;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Blind spots;
  • Pale skin.

Some common symptoms of cluster headaches are:

  • A constant and severe pain that can be described as burning and piercing one
  • side of the head;
  • Pain is located behind one eye or in the eye region and does not change sides;
  • The pain will disappear gradually throughout the day and recur later that day.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Usually, headaches are harmless and can be treated on its own over a period of time. However, some severe headaches can be a sign for a more serious disease such as brain tumor or stroke. It is advisable to consult with your doctor about your symptoms. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes headache?

Many things can cause a headache. Sometimes it can be from environmental triggers or from your activity. Medical conditions can lead to headache as well. Some common causes are:

  • Alcohol, red wine;
  • Smoked meat;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Poor posture;
  • Skipping meals;
  • Dehydration;
  • Stress/depression/anxiety;
  • Intense/poor physical activity;
  • Drug abuse;
  • Brain freeze.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for headache?

There are many risk factors for headaches, such as:

  • Family medical history;
  • Age: People over age 40 are more likely to have migraines;
  • Gender: women are three times more prone to have migraines;
  • Hormonal changes: For women, headaches start at just before or shortly after onset of menstruation.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is headache diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosing headaches is a physical exam that includes a review of your medical history. You need to tell your doctor as detailed as you can about your history of headaches, about the type of pain, timing and the duration, whether you have any pain or other symptoms that you are experiencing. It is helpful to keep a dairy detailing the symptoms you have so that the doctor can have a more precise diagnosis.

How is headache treated?

The most common way to treat headaches is over-the- counter pain medications.

Most tension headaches can be helped by taking pain-killers, such as:

  • Aspirin;
  • Naproxen (Aleve);
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol);
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

However, these drugs should not be overused. According to Mayo Clinic, using over-the-counter medications too much may lead to rebound or pain reliever-induced headaches. These types of headaches are difficult to treat and occur when you become so accustomed to a medication that you experience pain when the drugs wear off.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage headache?

The following lifestyles and home remedies aimed at stress reduction may help, including:

  • Meditation;
  • Relaxation training;
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy;
  • Biofeedback, which is a relaxation technique that teaches you to manage pain and stress;
  • Acupuncture;
  • Massage and gentle neck stretches;
  • Heat therapy (warm compress or shower).

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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