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Headache – Causes and Symptoms of Headache

Headache is a pain in any region of the head, upper back or neck. It is one of the common pains experienced by everyone. It can be a dull ache, throbbing sensation or sharp pain. Headaches are occasional and milder in nature. They may even cause a serious problem and can affect the life of a person. They may appear suddenly or gradually and may also last for less than an hour to several days.

Causes of Headache
Based on the cause, headaches are classified into primary and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches
These are caused by an over activity or dysfunction of pain-sensitive features in the head. The muscles of head and neck, blood vessels and nerves of the head and the brain’s chemical activity play an important role in primary headaches. Some people even inherit these headaches.

The common primary headaches are:

  • Cluster headache (headaches that cause stabbing pain around the eye, eye tearing and nasal congestion)
  • Tension headache (tightening around the head and neck and a dull ache)
  • Migraine (intense severe headaches that occur on one or both sides of the head)

The less common headaches are:

  • Sex headaches
  • Hypnic headaches (headaches that awaken a person at night)
  • Exercise headaches
  • Cough headaches
  • Chronic daily headaches

Following factors increase the risk of primary headaches:

  • Stress
  • Skipped meals
  • Poor posture
  • Lack of sleep or changes in sleep
  • Alcohol consumption, particularly red wine

Secondary headaches
Secondary headaches occur as a result of other diseases and they activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. These headaches are caused by:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia (disruption of nerve that connects the face and brain)
  • Stroke
  • Congestion and sinus inflammation
  • Pseudo tumor cerebri (increased pressure inside the skull)
  • Pressure created from wearing goggles or helmets
  • Over use of pain medications
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding brain and spinal cord)
  • Medications used for other disorders
  • Low levels of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Influenza
  • Hangovers
  • Glaucoma
  • Giant cell arteritis ( inflammation of the artery lining)
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Chiari malformation (structural problem at the base of the skull)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Brain tumour
  • Brain AVM (abnormal formation of brain blood vessels)
  • Brain aneurysm (a bulge in an artery in the brain)

The types of secondary headaches are:

  • Thunderclap headaches (severe, sudden headaches)
  • Spinal headaches (causeed by low levels of headaches)
  • Sinus headaches (caused by congestion and inflammation in sinus cavities)
  • Rebound headaches (caused by overuse of pain medications)
  • Ice cream headaches (brain freeze headaches)
  • External compression headaches (caused by wearing pressure causing gears on the head)


Symptoms of Headache

Following are the signs and symptoms associated with the headaches:

  • Feeling of uneasiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Hearing impairment
  • Blurred vision

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