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By Medicover Hospitals / 1 Feb 2021
Home | symptoms | headache
  • A painful sensation in any part of the head, ranging from sharp to dull, which can occur with other symptoms. Headaches may be caused by causes other than an underlying illness. Examples include lack of sleep, an incorrect prescription for glasses, stress, heavy exposure to noise, or tight headphones.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is a headache?
    2. Types of headache
    3. Headache Signs
    4. Headache Diagnosis
    5. Treatment
    6. When to see doctor
    7. Home Remedies
    8. FAQ's

    What is a headache?

  • Headache is a common condition that most people will experience many times in their lifetime. Headache is a pain in your head or face. It can be throbbing, constant, sharp, or bland. Headaches can be treated with proper medication and stress management.
  • Types of Headache:

  • Headaches are classified into three major categories based on the source of the pain.
    • Primary Headaches
    • Secondary Headaches
    • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches

    Primary Headache:

  • A primary headache is when a headache itself is the main problem. A primary headache is not a symptom of a medical condition. Primary headaches include:
    • Tension Headaches
    • Migraine Headaches
    • Cluster Headaches
    • New Daily Persistent Headaches(NDPH)
    • Chronic Daily Headaches

    Tension Headache:

  • Tension headache is the most common type of headache in both adults and teens. They cause mild to moderate pain and that comes and goes over time. They usually have no other symptoms.
  • Migraine headaches:

    • A migraine can cause a severe stabbing pain or throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It often involves nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours or days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.
    • For some people, a warning sign known as an aura happens before or with a headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, like flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, like tingling on one side of the face or arm or leg, and difficulty speaking.
    • Drugs can help prevent some migraine headaches and make them less painful. Proper medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, can help.

    Cluster headaches:

    • These headaches are the most serious. You may have intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye, it can be constant.
    • The pain can be so bad that most people with cluster headaches can’t sit still and often walk during an attack.
    • On the side of the pain, the eyelid droops, the eye turns red, the pupil narrows or the eye tears, the nostril on that side is filled. They are called cluster headaches because they usually occur in groups.
    • Headache may appear 1-3 times a day during a cluster period, which can last for 2 weeks to 3 months. Each headache attack lasts for 15 minutes to 3 hours
    • They can wake you up. The headache may disappear completely for months or years, only to come back later. Men are 3-4 times more likely than women to get them.

    Chronic Daily Headaches:

    • Chronic daily headache refers to headaches of almost any type that are very common, generally at least 15 days a month daily.
    • Chronic daily headaches can also arise from the overuse of painkillers.
    • Chronic migraines are diagnosed when headaches occur for more than 15 days per month and the use of migraines or pain relievers for at least 8 days.

    New Daily Persistent Headaches(NDPH):

    • A headache that starts suddenly and occurs for a long time every day is called a new daily persistent headache (NDPH).
    • NDPH is a subtype of chronic headache, meaning a headache that lasts for at least four hours and occurs for at least 15 days a month for up to 3 months or more.
    • The headache pain can be similar to other types of chronic daily headaches.

    Secondary Headache

  • Secondary headaches are underlying medical conditions. Secondary headaches are rare, but can also be much more serious than primary headaches. Secondary headaches can be a warning of a more serious underlying condition, including:
    • Brain tumors
    • Aneurysm
    • Meningitis
    • Sinus Headaches

    Brain tumors

    • A brain tumor is a lump or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. The skull that surrounds your brain is very stiff.
    • Any growth in such a limited space can cause problems. Brain tumors can be malignant or non-cancerous.


    • An aneurysm is the enlargement of an artery caused by weakness in the artery wall.
    • Often there are no symptoms, but a blowout aneurysm can lead to fatal complications.
    • An aneurysm refers to a weakening of an artery wall that causes the expansion of the artery.


    • Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord.
    • Meningitis can occur when fluid around the meninges becomes infected. The common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections.

    Sinus Headaches:

  • Sinus headaches caused by infection in the sinusitis. It causes pain in the forehead, around the nose and eyes, on the cheeks. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic headaches.
  • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches

    • Cranial neuralgia is an inflammation of one of the 12 cranial nerves that emerge from the brain that control the muscles and carry sensory signals to and from the head and neck.
    • The most widely recognized example is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects the trigeminal nerve, the sensory nerve that powers the face and can cause intense facial pain upon inflammation.

    Headache Signs:

    Tension Headache
    • Stress and anxiety
    • Squinting
    • Poor posture
    • Tiredness
    • Dehydration
    • Missing meals
    • Lack of physical activity
    • Pain that begins in the back of the head and upper neck and is described as tightness or pressure. It may spread to the surrounding head
    • The strongest pressure may be felt above the eyebrows where the temporalis and frontalis muscles are located
    • The pain may vary in intensity but usually, the pain may continue with daily activities. Pain occurring on both sides of the head
    • Pain is not associated with nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and noise
    • The pain occurs infrequently and without any pattern but can occur frequently and even daily in some cases.
    Migraine Headache
    • Bright lights
    • Severe heat
    • Dehydration
    • Hormone changes in women
    • Excess stress
    • Loud sounds
    • Intense physical activity
    • Skipping meals
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Unusual smells
    • Certain foods
    • Traveling
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol
    • A pulsating feeling in the head
    • Nausea
    • Pain on one side of the head
    • Sensitivity to sound and light
    • Severe, throbbing pain
    Cluster Headache
    • Genetics
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Medications
    • Alcohol
    • Some foods(chocolate, and foods high in nitrites like smoked meat)
    • During the period in which the cluster headaches occur, the pain usually occurs once or twice daily, but some may experience pain more than twice daily.
    • Each time of pain lasts from 30 to 90 minutes
    • The pain usually is excruciating and located around or behind one eye.
    • The nose on the affected side may become blocked and runny.
    Chronic Daily Headache
    • Inflammation with the blood vessels in and around the brain
    • Infections(like meningitis)
    • Intracranial pressure is too strong or too weak
    • Brain tumor
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Impact on one side or both sides of the head.
    • Have a pulsating, throbbing sensation
    • Nausea, vomiting or both
    • Sensitivity to light and sound
    • Tuberculosis

    Headache Diagnosis:

    • A doctor can usually diagnose some type of headache after asking the person about their symptoms, type of pain, timing, and pattern of attacks.
    • In some cases, the doctor may seek some tests that may include blood samples or imaging, such as a CT or MRI scan.
    • If you have a severe headache, then immediately seek emergency help or consult the doctor.

    Treeatment of Headache:

  • Rest and pain relief medications are the main treatments for headaches. The options include:
    • Over-the-counter painkillers, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Prescription pain relievers
    • Preventative drugs for specific conditions, such as migraine
    • Other treatments for underlying conditions
  • To avoid headaches associated with overuse of medications, it is essential to follow a doctor's advice.
  • Treatment of headaches associated with overuse of medication involves reducing or stopping treatment. A doctor can help make a plan for safe drug relief. In severe cases, a person may need a short hospital stay to manage withdrawal safely and effectively.
  • When to see a Doctor?

  • Most headaches are not symptoms of a deadly condition. However, contact your physician if a headache occurs after a head injury. You should also call the physician immediately if a headache is accompanied by the following symptoms:
    • Drowsiness
    • Fever
    • Vomiting
    • Numbness of the face
    • Speech disorders
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Convulsions
    • Confusion
  • The pressure around the eyes with a yellowish-green runny nose and a sore throat should also be evaluated by your doctor.
  • Home Remedies:

    • Certain care strategies can help prevent headaches or relieve pain. A person could:
    • Use a hot or ice pack against the head or neck, but avoid extreme temperatures and never apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Avoid stressors as much as possible and use healthy coping strategies for unavoidable stress.
    • Get enough sleep, following a routine, and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
    • Eat regular meals, making sure to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
    • Exercise regularly to improve your overall health and reduce stress.
    • Intake less alcohol and drink plenty of water.
    • Take breaks when working out to stretch and avoid eye strain.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Headaches are the most common type of headache. This happens when the scalp and neck muscles become tightened. This causes pain on the sides and back of the head. Generally, it is a dull pain that doesn’t throb. A tension headache is not a sign of another medical issue. Still, it can be painful.
  • Headache is a common condition that most people will experience many times in their lifetime. The main symptom of a headache is a pain in your head or face.
  • Yes, Brain tumor headaches come and go. That is depending on the size, type, and location of the tumor.
  • Non-medical headaches can be gone by taking some medication according to your pain or by reducing stress and change to a healthy lifestyle can help you get rid of headaches.