HeadachesCause, types, treatment, and testing

Headaches: Cause, types, treatment, and testing

Almost all people have had headache experience and many times. Headache interferes with the capability to work and do daily activities or tasks. Some individuals have frequent headaches, whereas some individuals hardly have it. Furthermore, if you have severe headaches or unusual headaches condition, you are likely to worry about having a stroke, a blood clot, or a tumor. It is significant for you to understand whether headache need immediate care and how to manage the worst of headaches that do not affect your health.

What are the causes of headaches?

There is no fully understand what causes headaches. Physicians do know that the brain tissue and the skull are never responsible since they do not have nerves that register pain. However, blood vessels in the head and neck can signal pain. It can be the tissues that surround the brain and some major nerves that originate in the brain. In addition, muscles and joints of the brain, the scalp, sinuses, and teeth can be reasonable cause pain in the head.

Headache can be divided into main types:

  • Primary headaches: not caused by another disease
  • Secondary headaches: caused by another disease

How many types of headaches?

Normally, the well-known word to describe pain in the head called “Headache”. But actually, there are more than 300 types of headaches, so if you only say you have a headache is not enough. Each type of headache causes different conditions. Approximately 10% of headaches have known cases.

Primary headaches

Some of the major headaches are described below.

  • Tension headaches: you will experience symptoms like a dull, squeezing pain on both sides of the head. Some people with strong tension headaches may feel like their head is in a vise. The shoulders and neck also ache. For other tension headaches are triggered fatigue, emotional stress, the problem involving the muscles or joints of the neck or jaw. The duration of most pain for 20 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Migraine: It often occurs and begins in the evening or during sleep. For some people, it preceded by several hours of fatigue, depression, and sluggishness or by irritability and restlessness.
  • Cluster headaches: The pain always strikes one side of the head and is very severe. The eye on the painful side has appeared the sign of red and watery, droopy eyelid, and running nose or stuffy nose. The attack starts abruptly and lasts for 30 or 60 minutes. Many sufferers become restless and agitated during the attack, unable to sit still, they pace, jog in place, or beat their head against the wall. Nausea and sensitivity to light and sound also one of the reasons leading to the pain in the head.

Secondary headaches

Other types of headaches

  • Medication headache: some people obtain side effects from their medication. If you have headaches and use medication frequently, OTC (over the counter) or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you might have overuse of headache medication.
  • Sinus headaches: you may experience the pain over your forehead, around nose and eyes area, the cheeks, or in the upper teeth.
  • Ice cream headaches: Sharp, sudden headache pain when you consume anything cool or ice-cream.
  • Headache from high blood pressure: Particularly hypertension or high blood pressure does not cause any headache, expect in case you have severe high blood pressure.
  • Headache from exercise and sex: Strenuous exercise can bring discomfort in your head. Warm-up gradually or treatment with an anti-inflammatory medication before exercise can be useful to reduce the pain. Furthermore, sexual intercourse may also trigger headaches. Men note only dull pain, but the others suffer from severe attacks called orgasmic headaches. They can prevent the orgasmic headaches by using an NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) 30 to 60 minutes before intercourse.

When should you worry about headaches?

When headaches appear, you can manage many types of it and your physicians can provide you medication to control most of the tougher headaches. But some headaches need to seek immediate medical care. There is some warning sign for you to worry when you experience the following headache:

  • Headaches that first develop after age 50 years old
  • The main transformation in the pattern of your headache
  • Pain in the head that increases with coughing or movement
  • Pain in the head get steadily worse
  • Change mental function or personality
  • Headaches that are accompanied by:
    • Fever
    • Stiff neck
    • Confusion
    • Decreased alertness or memory
    • Neurological symptoms including disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizure
  • Headaches that are accompanied by a disturbing of redeye, pain, and tenderness near the temples
  • Headaches after blow of the head
  • Headaches that interrupt everyday activities
  • Headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
  • Headaches in patients diagnosed with cancer
  • Headaches in patients with impaired immune systems

Is there any testing for headaches?

The testing will depend on patients and their warning signs or other worrisome headaches. There are the tests that your physicians may request you to do including:

  • Computed tomography scans (CT scans)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

All these testing tests your brain to look normal in tension-type headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches.


Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School Trust advice for a healthier life. (2020, May 20). Retrieved from Headache: when to worry, what to do:

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