Headache is a term used to describe aching or pain that occurs in one or more areas of the head, face, mouth, or neck. Headache can be chronic, recurrent, or occasional. The pain can be mild or severe enough to disrupt daily activities. Headache involves the network of nerve fibers in the tissues, muscles, and blood vessels located in the head and at the base of the skull.Types.
Tension headache is the most common type of primary headache. Episodes usually begin in middle age and are often associated with the stresses, anxiety, and depression that can develop during these years.
Cluster headaches occur daily over a period of weeks, sometimes months. They may disappear and then recur during the same season in the following year.
Migraine headache is a throbbing or pulsating headache that is often one sided (unilateral) and associated with nausea; vomiting; sensitivity to light, sound, and smells; sleep disruption; and depression. Attacks are often recurrent and tend to become less severe as the migraine sufferer ages.
Secondary headache is associated with an underlying condition such as cerebrovascular disease, head trauma, infection, tumor, and metabolic disorder (e.g., diabetes, thyroid disease). Head pain also can result from syndromes involving the eyes, ears, neck, teeth, or sinuses. In these cases, the underlying condition must be diagnosed and treated. Also, certain types of medication produce headache as a side effect.
Severe, sudden, and debilitating secondary headache that develops after a blow to the head, that interferes with normal activity, or that accompanies other symptoms (e.g., convulsions, disorientation, dizziness, loss of consciousness, pain in the eye or ear, fever) should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of a headache. Therefore accurate diagnosis is the first step that will determine further treatment. There may be a need for brain imaging (CAT scans or MRI), blood tests or other procedures. Treatment for secondary headaches depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for primary headaches may include medications for acute attacks and prophylactic treatment to prevents acute attacks and/or decrease their severity. There are non-medication therapies available as well (natural therapies, acupuncture, physical therapy etc).