Definition of a Headache



Most of the human population experiences a headache at some time in their life. They come on unexpectedly and for different reasons. There are primary headaches, secondary headaches, cluster headaches, and headaches caused by our environment. Some headaches may be caused by a disease, stress, and by what you eat and drink.

A headache is a pain in a particular part of the head. It can be above the eyes, in the back of the neck, and behind the ears. Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. 90 percent of the adult population experiences a tension headache one time during their life. Women are especially prone to tension headaches. Men have headaches but not as often as women.

A headache may become intense and can turn into a migraine. A migraine is the most common form of primary headache. Studies show that as many as 12 percent of the adult population will have a migraine. They also affect children. Boys and girls are equally affected by migraines. That statistic changes after puberty when girls are more affected than boys.

An enlargement of blood vessels causes the nerves around them to release a chemical that causes pain, inflammation and an enlargement of the temporal artery. The temporal artery lies outside the skull and under the surface of the skin. This artery is already enlarged when a person is experiencing a migraine and the chemicals the nerves around it release cause it to enlarge more.

Migraines also stimulate the sympathetic nervous system that controls the fight or flight response. Symptoms of a severe migraine may cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The body will empty the contents of the small intestine and sometimes will not allow the body to absorb the medication that will fight the migraine.

Cluster headaches and called that because they occur in groups. They will sometimes last weeks or months, followed by pain-free time. These times may last as long as a few months or sometimes years. When a person experiences cluster headaches, they often have pain once or twice a day. The pain is mainly located around one or both eyes and is extremely painful.

The eye that is affected will often become inflamed, watery and appear red. The nose may also be runny or congested. Men and boys are more affected by cluster headaches. Cluster headaches often do not have a clear cause. Sometimes alcohol or cigarettes will cause an episode of cluster headaches.

Tension headaches also do not have a clear cause. Doctors explain to their patients that a tension headache can be caused by an especially hectic day or excessive stress. Some tension headaches may also be caused by the same circumstances that cause migraines.

Secondary headaches have many causes including reaction to medications, withdrawal from caffeine, drugs, or alcohol. Secondary headaches can occur because of life threatening problems including strokes, tumors, meningitis, or hemorrhages in the brain.

If you suffer from headaches, there are ways to treat them and relieve the pain.

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