Headaches: Types, Causes And Treatments


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Headaches are one of the most common illnesses that affect a person. Even a healthy person can have a headache from time to time. Most of these headaches are not serious and would eventually go away with no medication. However, frequent and severely painful headaches might be a different story altogether.

Headaches can be classified into two types based on their cause.

Primary Headache

Any headache that is not associated with a separate medical condition is termed as a Primary Headache. It is one of the most common types of headaches. Examples of primary headaches include Migraine, Cluster headache, Tension headache, etc.
Studies show that 7 out of 10 persons suffer from primary headaches at least once a year.

Some of the primary headaches are:

Tension Headache - Tension headaches are often described as pain around your head and can accompany a feeling of tightness around the head. Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches.

Migraine - Migraine is associated with severe pain, confined to one side of the head. A migraine is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Cluster Headache - Cluster headaches are one of the most painful headaches. During a cluster headache, you might experience severe pain in or above one of your eyes.

Experts are yet to reach a conclusion on the actual causes of a primary headache. There are varying theories to the reasons.

However, some of the common lifestyle factors that can cause headaches are:

· Stress

· Alcohol

· Cigarette Smoking

· Lack of sleep

Secondary Headache

Secondary headaches are caused due to an underlying medical condition. Secondary headaches are a more serious ailment and proper medical care is recommended.
Recurrent headaches may be the first sign that tells if a doctor's consultation is required.

Some of the possible causes include but are not limited to:
· Blood Clot

· Brain aneurysm

· Brain Tumor

· Acute Sinusitis

· Dental problems

· Ear Infection

Diagnosis and Treatment

A headache can both be a symptom as well as a disease. Even though all headaches are not a worrying sign, frequent occurrence and severity of pain are enough reasons for a doctor's consultation.

Treatment for headache varies according to the cause. Primary headaches like Migraine, tension headaches, or cluster headaches can be controlled through over the counter painkiller medications. However, seeking medical advice is preferred if the painkiller medications show less to no effect on the headache.
At times a secondary headache might present itself as a primary headache and hence it is always recommended to get a medical opinion if you are constantly suffering from headaches.
If a doctor diagnoses a secondary headache the treatment to this would vary according to the severity of the condition. Moreover, there are different tests that are to be performed in order to confirm a secondary headache.


The causes for most of the primary headaches are yet to be discovered. However, there is enough evidence to believe that a stress-free environment reduces the risk of primary headaches. Secondary headaches are to be taken more seriously and self-medication to these conditions might prove fatal. Hence it is advisable that any headache that doesn't go away after self-medication or one that has frequent recurrence are to be consulted with a doctor.

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