Headache is one of the most wide spread medical complaint; almost all people experience it at some point in their life. They can affect anyone regardless of age, race, and gender. A headache is when your head hurts from inside. According to WHO (World Health Organisation) almost half of all adults worldwide will experience a headache in any given year. Some of the headaches are so troublesome that it may restrict people attending their work outside and at home. A headache can occur in any part of the head on both sides or in just one location.
Headaches are mainly categorised as Primary headaches and Secondary headaches.
1. Primary headaches
Primary headaches are stand-alone complaints caused directly by the over activity of structures like muscles, nerves and blood vessels of neck and head that are pain-sensitive. Change in chemical activity in the brain may also result in headache. Commonly known primary headaches are cluster headache, tension headache and migraines.
2. Secondary headaches
Secondary headaches generally occur when another ailment stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. In other words, when headache symptoms appear due to another cause are called secondary headaches. Some of the factors that can cause secondary headaches include:-
- Hangover induced by alcohol
- Tumor in the brain
- Bleeding or blood clotting in or around the brain
- Ice-cream headaches (Brain Freeze)
- Impact/Shock caused by collision (Concussion)
- Dehydration & Glaucoma
- Overuse of painkillers (Rebound headaches)
- Influenza & Stroke
- Panic attacks
Causes & symptoms
The symptoms of a headache can depend on the type. In Tension Headaches one might feel a tight band around the head, dull ache on both sides and pain from or to neck. In case of Cluster Headaches pain is one sided, severe and sharp which may last from 15 minutes to 3 hours. A Migraine Headache may cause a pulsating, throbbing pain usually only on one side of the head accompanied by light-headedness, blurred vision, nausea and sensory disturbances. Thunderclap Headaches are severe and sudden headache that reaches its maximum intensity in less than one minute and may last for more than 5 minutes. A headache could be an indication of stress or emotional agony. It can result from medical disorders like anxiety, depression, high BP or migraine. It may be caused by high fever, watching television or by looking at phone or computer screens for long time. It may also happen if you are sleepy or over slept.
In many cases headaches can be relieved naturally. Massaging the temples near the eye, exercising your eyes by blinking and palming and walking in the fresh air can help relieve headaches. A diet rich in proteins and iron, can keep your brain awake and healthy and drinking plenty of water can also help in reducing headache. These natural techniques tend to give you long-term relief whilst medication can often give you short term relief. Many headaches can be relieved with analgesics like Aspirin & Paracetamol.
Relief & self-care
Following steps can be taken to reduce & ease the pain
a) Apply a heat pack or ice pack to your head
b) If possible, avoid stressors, exercise healthy coping strategies for unavoidable stress
c) Eat regular meals, taking care to maintain stable blood sugar
d) Take hot shower
e) Take rest and enough sleep
If a headache is more painful, severe, regular, and persistent or fails to improve with medication or is accompanied by other symptoms such as stiffness in the neck, fever, confusion, sensory changes, a doctor should be contacted immediately. Headaches may be a symptom of a potential serious problem; it is advised to seek medical advice.
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