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Almost everyone has had a headache. Headache is the most common form of pain. It's a major reason people miss days at work or school or visit the doctor.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don't get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Other common types of headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax and taking pain relievers.

Not all headaches require a doctor's attention. But sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let your health care provider know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or pain in the eye or ear.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Headache

The following features are indicative of Headache:
  • pain
It is possible that Headache shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

Common Causes of Headache

The following are the most common causes of Headache:
  • fatigue
  • sleep deprivation
  • stress
  • effects of recreational drugs
  • viral infections

Other Causes of Headache

The following are the less common causes of Headache:
  • exposure to loud noises
  • common cold
  • head injury
  • rapid ingestion of a very cold food or beverages
  • dental or sinus issues
  • alcohol consumption
  • intake of certain foods such as processed meats which contain nitrates
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • lack of sleep
  • poor posture
  • skipped meals
  • acute sinusitis
  • arterial tears
  • blood clot formation
  • brain aneurysms
  • brain arteriovenous malformation
  • brain tumor
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • chiari malformation
  • concussion
  • dehydration
  • ear infections
  • encephalitis
  • glaucoma
  • giant cell arteritis
  • high blood pressure
  • influenza

Risk Factors for Headache

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Headache:
  • female sex
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • sleep disturbances
  • obesity
  • snoring
  • overuse of caffeine
  • overuse of headache medication

Prevention of Headache

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Headache. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid headache triggers
  • avoid medication overuse
  • get enough sleep
  • do not skip meals
  • exercise regularly
  • reduce stress
  • reduce caffeine

Occurrence of Headache

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Headache cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Headache can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Headache can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Headache

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Headache:
  • Physical exam: To find out the signs of neurological, illness and infection problems
  • Imaging tests: To diagnose any medical condition

Doctor for Diagnosis of Headache

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Headache:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Headache if untreated

Yes, Headache causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Headache is left untreated:
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances
  • psychological problems

Procedures for Treatment of Headache

The following procedures are used to treat Headache:
  • Electrical stimulation of the occipital nerve: Surgically implanted electrode sends continuous energy pulses to the nerve to ease pain

Medicines for Headache

Below is the list of medicines used for Headache:

Self-care for Headache

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Headache:
  • Avoid medication overuse: Do not use headache medications in excess without a health professional recommendation
  • Get enough sleep: Take seven to eight hours of sleep
  • Don't skip meals: Eat healthy meals at about the same times daily
  • Exercise regularly: Improve your physical and mental well-being and reduce stress
  • Reduce stress: Try stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi or meditation
  • Reduce caffeine intake: Beneficial in reducing headache pain

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Headache

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Headache:
  • Acupuncture: Helps in reducing the frequency and intensity of chronic headaches
  • Biofeedback: Control headaches
  • Massage: Reduces stress, relieve pain and promote relaxation
  • Coenzyme Q10 supplements: Reduce the frequency of headaches

Patient Support for Treatment of Headache

The following actions may help Headache patients:
  • Take control: Commit yourself to living a full life
  • Seek understanding: Pay attention to your headaches
  • Check out support groups: Talk to other people who have painful headaches
  • Consider counseling: Helps in managing stress

Time for Treatment of Headache

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Headache to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 3 months

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Headache.

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