What is a Headache?
A headache is pain in your head or neck. Since headaches can have many causes, they may also be a sign of another, possibly serious, condition.
Types of Headache
There are a few types of headache, according to the National Institutes of Health:
- Tension, also called “muscle contraction,” which appear to involve tension in the muscles of your face and neck
- Inflammatory or Traction, which may be the result of another condition, such as a sinus infection or stroke
- Vascular, which may be caused by problems with your blood vessels
Migraine is the most common vascular headache type, and affects men more than women. You’ll usually experience severe pain on one or both sides of your head, and possibly vision problems or an upset stomach.
Other types of vascular headache include those caused by a fever or high blood pressure, or cluster headaches, a group of headaches causing repeated, intense pain.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Headaches
Headaches themselves are easy to diagnose, but your doctor may talk to you about how, where and when you’re experiencing pain to determine the specific type and cause.
Your doctor may also ask whether you’re experiencing other symptoms, such as changes to personality, dizziness, speech difficulties or vision problems.
Knowing what’s causing your headache is crucial to choosing the right treatment, and determining whether it’s a symptom of another, more dangerous condition, such as a tumor, head trauma, aneurysm or infection.
How is a Headache Treated?
How your headache is treated may depend on the type, severity and cause. For minor tension headaches, you may just need sleep or an over-the-counter pain relieving medication.
For headaches resulting from more serious conditions, your doctor may order surgical or medical therapy to treat the underlying condition.
For more information on headache types, please visit our health library.
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