What is headache?
A headache is a pain in the head and neck area that may be a disease in its own right or a symptom of an underlying medical condition or disorder. The medical term for headache is known as cephalalgia.
Types of headaches
Headaches are divided into two big groups, primary and secondary, based on guidelines established by the International Headache Society (IHS).
– Primary headaches – accounting for at least 90 percent of all headaches – aren’t due to an underlying medical condition. There are three important kinds of primary headaches: migraine, cluster, and tension.
– Secondary headaches are caused by some other factor or medical condition and account for over 10 percent of headaches.
– Rebound headaches, also called analgesic abuse headaches, are a subtype of primary headache brought on by overuse of headache medication. They may be related to drugs taken for tension or migraine headaches.
Secondary headaches are classified as either traction or inflammatory headaches.
– Traction headaches result from the pulling, pushing, or extending of pain-sensitive structures, like a brain tumor pressing upon the outer layer of tissue that covers the brain.
– Inflammatory headaches are due to infectious diseases of the ears, ears, sinuses, or different areas of the head.
Headaches are extremely common in the North American adult population. The American Council for Headache Education (ACHE) estimates that 95 percent of girls and 90 percent of men in the USA and Canada have experienced at least one headache in the previous 12 months. The majority of these are tension headaches. Migraine headaches are less common, affecting about 11 percent of the populace in America and 15 percent in Canada.
Several studies indicate that physicians often under-diagnosed migraine headaches; hence the true number of patients with migraines could be substantially higher than the reported figures. Cluster headaches are the least common type of primary headaches, affecting about 0.4percent of adult men in America and 0.08% of mature females. Cluster headaches occur most commonly in adults between the ages of 20 and 40. It is possible for individuals to suffer from more than one kind of headache. For instance, patients with chronic tension headaches frequently have migraine headaches also.
Causes of headaches
An individual feels headache pain when specialized nerve endings, called nociceptors, are stimulated by pressure on or harm to some of those pain-sensitive structures of the mind. Most nociceptors in humans can be found in the skin or on the walls of blood vessels and internal organs. The bones of the skull and the brain itself don’t contain these technical pain receptors. The areas of the head which are sensitive to pain include:
– skin that covers the skull and upper spine
– the 5th, 9th, and 10th cranial nerves, as well as the nerves that supply the upper area of the neck, and
– the big arteries located at the bottom of the brain, in addition to those that provide the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Tension headaches typically result from tightening of the face, neck, and scalp muscles because of psychological stress; bodily postures that cause the head and neck muscles to tense (e.g., holding a phone against the ear with one’s shoulder); psychological depression or anxiety; temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction; or arthritis of the neck. The tense muscles put pressure on the walls of the blood vessels which supply the neck and head, which arouses the nociceptors (sensory receptor for painful stimuli) in the cells that line the blood vessels.
The causes of migraine headaches have been debated since the 1940s. Some researchers believe migraines are the final result of a magnesium deficiency in the mind, or of hypersensitivity to a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called dopamine. Another theory is that certain nerve cells in the brain become unusually excitable, setting off a chain reaction that contributes to changes in the quantity of blood flowing through the blood vessels and stimulation of the nociceptors. Particular genes associated with migraines have been discovered. This finding suggests that genetic mutations could cause the abnormal excitability of the nerve cells in the brains of patients with migraine headaches.
Little is known about the causes of cluster headaches or changes in the central nervous system that make them. Patients with cluster headaches are advised to stop smoking and minimize their use of alcohol since nicotine and alcohol seem to trigger these headaches. The precise link between these chemicals and cluster strikes isn’t yet completely understood.
Symptoms of headaches
Tension headaches are less severe than other kinds of primary headaches. They seldom last more than a couple of hours; 82% fix in less than a day. Patients usually describe the pain of a tension headache as mild to moderate. The doctor won’t find anything unusual in the span of a general physical exam, although they might detect sore or tense areas (trigger points) from the muscles of the patient’s forehead, neck, or upper shoulder region.
Migraine headaches can feel like throbbing pain of medium to severe intensity lasting from four hours to as long as three days. The pain is typically felt on one side of their mind; in actuality, the English word “migraine” is a combination of two Greek words which mean “half” and “head.” Migraine headaches worsen with physical activity and are frequently accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Patients with migraine headaches are hypersensitive to sounds, lights, and scents.
Cluster headaches are recurrent short attacks of sudden and acute pain on one side of their mind. The pain is usually most intense in the area around the eye. Cluster headaches can last between five minutes and three hours and might occur once every other day or as often as eight times every day. Patients can pace the floor, weep, rock back and forth, or bang their heads against a wall in desperate efforts to stop the pain. In addition to acute pain, patients frequently have a runny or congested nose, stuffy or watery eyes, drooping eyelids, swelling in the region of the eyebrows, and heavy facial perspiration. Due to the nasal symptoms and the comparative rarity of cluster headaches, they are sometimes misdiagnosed as sinusitis.
According to Mayo Clinic, most headaches are not the result of a severe illness, but some can result from a life-threatening illness requiring emergency care.
Headaches are generally categorized by cause:
– Primary headaches: A primary headache is caused by overactivity of or problems with pain-sensitive structures in the head. The main headache is not a symptom of an underlying disease.
Chemical activity in the head, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your neck and head (or any combination of these variables ) may play a role in primary headaches. Some people could also carry genes that make them more likely to come up with such headaches.
The most common primary headaches are:
• Cluster headache
• Migraine with aura
• Tension headache
• Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia (TAC), such as cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicrania
A couple of headache patterns are also generally considered kinds of headaches but are less common. These headaches have different features, like an unusual length or pain related to a certain activity.
Some primary headaches can be triggered by lifestyle factors, such as:
• Changes in sleep or lack of sleep
• Poor posture
• Certain foods, such as processed meats with nitrates
Secondary headaches: A secondary headache is a symptom of a disorder That can trigger the pain-sensitive nerves of the mind. Numerous ailments can cause secondary headaches. Possible causes of secondary headaches can be due to many factors such as concussion, dehydration, nasal & dental issues, hangovers, drugs to treat other ailments, overuse of pain medication, panic attacks, and anxiety disorder, and a lot more.
Diagnosis of headaches
Person’s history: The differential diagnosis of headaches starts with a careful client history that includes information about
– Physical evaluation
A physical exam helps the physician identify signs and symptoms which could be related to the diagnosis like fever; difficulty breathing; nausea or vomiting; stiff neck; changes in vision or hearing; watering or inflammation of the eyes and nose; signs of head trauma; skin rashes or other signs of an infectious disease; and abnormalities in the structure or alignment of the spinal column, jaw or teeth. Sometimes, the doctor may refer the patient to a dentist or oral surgeon for a more comprehensive evaluation of the jaw and mouth.
– Special tests and imaging studies
Laboratory tests are helpful in identifying headaches brought on by infections, nausea, or thyroid disease. Imaging studies may include x rays of the uterus to test for infections; and CT or MRI scans, which may rule out brain tumors and cerebral aneurysms. Patients whose symptoms can’t be fully explained by the results of physical examinations and tests may be referred to a psychologist for evaluation of psychological variables linked to their headaches.
– Warning symptoms
There are warning signs related to headache that indicate the need for prompt medical care. Mayo Clinic recommends patients with any of the following symptoms should see a doctor at once:
• Three or more headaches per week.
• Need to get a hassle pain reliever every day or almost every day.
• Need for more than recommended doses of over-the-counter (OTC) headache drugs.
• Headache accompanied by one-sided weakness, numbness, visual loss, speech difficulty, or other indications.
• Change in the character of these headaches–for instance, persistent severe headaches in someone that has previously had only mild headaches of short duration.
• Recurrent headaches in a kid.
• Recurrent severe headaches beginning after age 50.
• Headache that becomes worse within a period of six months, particularly if most prominent in the morning or if accompanied by neurological symptoms.
• Headache with fever & stiff neck.
Natural remedies for headache
Natural remedies with complementary & alternative therapy remedies can decrease the frequency and severity of headaches to provide relief. Typical treatments include:
• Acupressure. The stomach 3 and large intestine 4 points alleviate sinus headaches.
• Acupuncture. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel concluded that acupuncture might be a helpful treatment for headaches.
• Aerobic exercise. Regular aerobic exercise reduces the frequency and intensity of headaches.
• Aromatherapy. Massage using the essential oils of rosemary, lavender, or peppermint relieves headaches.
• Autogenic therapy. Headache may be alleviated by learning how to place oneself in a semi-hypnotic state.
• Chiropractic. Cervical manipulation can relieve tension headaches.
• Heat or chilly. A hot shower or bath can ease tension headaches. Vascular headache may be relieved by putting an ice pack on the brow, or the feet in warm water and a cold pack on the forehead (hydrotherapy treatment).
• Ayurveda & Herbals. Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) may be used for migraine; goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) for sinus headache; valerian (Valeriana officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), or passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) for tension headache; and cayenne (in the uterus ) for cluster headache. A German remedy made from butterbur root (Petasites hybridus) is currently available in the USA under the brand name Petadolex. The herb, Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat headaches associated with stress.
• Holistic medicine. Headaches may be caused by constipation and liver malfunction. Apple-spinach juice relieves constipation, and a mix of carrot, beet, celery, and parsley juices treats the liver.
• Homeopathy. Treatments are chosen for each individual and might include Belladonna (throbbing headache), Bryonia (splitting headache), Kali bichromicum (sinus headache), and Nux vomica (tension headache with nausea and vomiting).
• Massage. Business massage of the forehead, neck, and scalp can relieve headaches.
• Osteopathy. Headache is treated with neuromuscular massage and manipulation of the head, neck, and upper back.
• Pressure. A headband tied tightly around the head may alleviate migraines in some patients.
• Reflexology. Headache is treated with solar plexus, ear, eye, and mind points.
• Relaxation Methods. Meditation, biofeedback, and yoga can relieve headaches.
• Dietary Supplements. Vitamins B2 and B12, niacin, and magnesium (a vitamin ) can help treat or protect against headache.
• Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS). This powerful headache remedy electrically stimulates nerves and blocks pain transmission.
• Visualization. This relaxation technique controls the pictures in the mind, replacing negative thoughts and images with positive ones that enhance comfort.
Tension headaches are often relieved rather rapidly by such over-the-counter Analgesics as aspirin, acetaminophen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen or naproxen. For individuals with chronic tension headaches, the doctor may prescribe medication specific to the patient’s symptoms.
Prevention of headaches
The prognosis for primary headaches changes. Episodic tension headaches usually resolve completely in under a day without affecting the patient’s entire health. The long-term prognosis for patients with migraines is determined by whether They have at least one of the other disorders related to migraines. These ailments include Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, ischemic stroke, hereditary essential tremor, depression, anxiety, and others. For example, migraine with Aura increases an individual’s risk of ischemic stroke by a factor of six.
The prognosis for secondary headaches depends upon the seriousness and severity of the cause.
Lifestyle modification is one step that people can take to lower their risk of tension headaches.
– They should have enough sleep and eat healthy meals at regular times.
– Skipping meals, using unbalanced fad diets to lose weight, and Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can cause tension headaches.
Some headaches may be prevented by avoiding situations and substances that trigger them by employing alternative remedies, such as yoga and routine exercise.
– Appropriate lighting may prevent headaches brought on by eyestrain.
– Because food allergies tend to be linked with headaches, particularly cluster strain headaches, and migraines, identification and removal of the allergy-causing food(s) in the diet may be an important preventative measure.
– Women with migraines often benefit by switching from oral contraceptives to some other method of birth control, or by quitting estrogen replacement therapy.
Prophylactic treatments for migraine include prednisone, calcium channel blockers, and methysergide.