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Headaches: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

A headache is a very common condition. It causes discomfort and pain in the head, scalp or neck. It is medically defined as a pain that arises from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissue that surrounds the skull or the brain. It may be isolated on one side of the head or both sides. It may be isolated to a certain location and radiates from one point to another. It may appear as a sharp pain, a dull ache or a throbbing sensation. I may develop suddenly or gradually which can last from less than an hour to several days.

Types of headaches

  • Tension headache– is the most common type of headache. It’s an everyday headache that we feel which affects both sides of the head and may last for 30 minutes or several hours.
  • Migraines– It causes a severe throbbing pain in one side of the head. It usually lasts for a couple of hours and can stop you from carrying out your normal daily activities.
  • Cluster headaches– These are rare types of headaches that occur for a month in a form of a cluster. The pain is severe accompanied by a water red eyes and runny nose.

Causes of headaches

The most likely cause of a headache is the contraction of muscles that cover the skull. When the muscles are stressed, they become inflamed and cause pain. Other causes of a headache include:

  • Sinusitis
  • A flu or a cold
  • A head injury
  • Sleep apnea

Signs and symptoms of headache

Tension headache:

  • Neck and shoulder stiffness
  • Pain that is dull and aching
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Pressure across the forehead that extends to the back of the head

Cluster headache:

  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Occurs an hour or two after a person goes to bed

Migraine headache:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Severe, throbbing pain
  • Sensitivity to sound and light

Headache diagnosis

A simple headache can sometimes be a symptom of a disease or a medical condition. To know the underlying cause, your doctor may do the following:

  • Take your medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Perform diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count, a skull x-ray, a sinus x-ray and a CT scan or MRI

Headache treatment

The type of treatment that you will receive depends upon the type of a headache that you get. If a headache is due to illnesses, then the headache will likely to go away once the underlying condition is treated. Most headache can be successfully treated with an over-the-counter medication such as: