Headache

A pain located in the head or upper neck is defined as a headache.  It is the most common location for pain and can have many causes and types.  There are several categories and types of headaches.  Three major categories are primary, secondary and cranial neuralgias/facial pain/other. 

Primary headaches include the following types of headaches:

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, in that up to 90% of adults have had a tension headache.  More common in women than men, tension headaches are typically described as pain or discomfort in the head, scalp or neck.  They can be caused by stress or depression or by physical positioning that causes discomfort.  They can also be triggered by external causes such as alcohol use, excess or withdrawal from caffeine, cold or flu, dental issues, eye strain, excess smoking, fatigue, nasal congestion, overexertion or sinus infection.  Tension headaches can be dull or pressure-like, they can be like a tight band on the head, and they can be “all over” or worse in a specific spot on the scalp, temples or shoulders.  

A Cluster headache is described as pain on one side of the head that may involve tearing of the eyes and stuffy nose.  The pain can occur regularly for a week or a year with periods of time without pain for at least a month or longer.  These types of headaches are more common in adolescents and middle-aged people.  They can be hereditary.  External triggers may include alcohol and cigarette use, traveling at high altitudes, bright lights, overexertion, overheating, foods high in nitrates, medications and illicit drugs such as cocaine.

The pain from a cluster headache is typically described as burning, sharp &/or steady. 

Sinus headaches cause a dull or deep throbbing pain in the front of your head and face caused by swelling of a patient’s sinuses.  Bending down or leaning over makes the pain worse as does cold or damp weather.  They can be very similar to tension headaches and migraines in their symptoms so they can be difficult to diagnose. 

Migraines are a debilitating type of headache that can occur with nausea, vomiting or intense sensitivity to light.  The pain can be limited to one side of the head.  Sometimes, patients get a warning (an “aura”) that a migraine is about to occur by experiencing various visual disturbances.   First seen in children as young as 10, migraines occur more often in women and can be hereditary.  Stress, certain foods, environmental irritants can trigger migraines.  Sufferers can experience a blind spot, blurred vision, eye pain, “seeing stars” or tunnel vision prior to the migraine onset.  Patients may be prescribed medicine to reduce the number of attacks, however identifying early signs and addressing them early is key. 

Medications for headaches include the following

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Indomethacin or Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)

Episodic tension-type headaches and migraines affect a patient’s quality of life.  However, they are not medically dangerous and hopefully occur rarely and can be treated at the time.  Psychological issues must also be addressed should chronic headaches result in anxiety and depression.

Source: www.Yahoo.com