It is defined as a pain in the head and upper neck region
which can arise from many disorders or may be a disorder in and of it. It is one of the
most common locations of pain in the body. Most of the times a headache is more of a
nagging nuisance than an indicator of a serious problem. However, in some cases the
headache does warrant more serious attention as it can be the indicator of some significant
1.Primary Headache or idiopathic headache
Those headaches in which no pathology is present. This includes:
a.Tension type headache- the most common type of primary headache; as
many as 90% of adults have had or will have tension headaches. Tension
headaches are more common among women than men. They are often brought
on by stress, overexertion, loud noise, and other external factors. The
characteristic feature is that, this is the only type of headache which
persists continuously throughout the day and night without any relief
in between with sensation of fullness or lightness in the head.
b.Migraine- the second most common type of primary headache. There is
intense throbbing pain occurring on one or both sides of the head and
is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred
vision, and aversion to light, sound, and movement. People having
migraine often get prodromal symptoms ( features which occur before the
actual onset of headache ) like seeing flashes of light, nausea,
tingling on the face, etc. They should then immediately take the
medication prescribed by their doctor because it is easier to control
the headache before it comes on full blown rather than after it has
occurred. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by
migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are
affected. An estimated 6% of men and up to 18% of women will experience
a migraine headache. For women, a hormonal connection is likely, since
headaches occur at specific points in the menstrual cycle, with use of
oral contraceptives, or the use of hormone replacement therapy after
c.Cluster Headache- a rare type of primary headache, affecting 0.1% of
the population, most of the sufferers is men. The average age of
cluster headache sufferers is 28-30 years of age, although headaches
may begin in childhood. It causes excruciating pain. The severe,
stabbing pain centers around one eye, become red, inflamed, and watery
like a hot poker, and eye tearing and nasal congestion occur on the
same side. The headache lasts from 15 minutes to four hours and may
recur several times in a day. Heavy smokers are more likely
to suffer cluster headaches, which are also associated with alcohol
Unlike patients with migraine headaches, patients with cluster
headaches tend to be restless. They often pace the floor, bang their
heads against a wall, and can be driven to desperate measures.
Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying structural
problem in the head or neck. There are numerous causes of this type of
The International Headache Society lists eight categories of secondary
headache. A examples in each category are noted (this is not a complete
a. Head and neck trauma
- Injuries to the head may cause bleeding in the spaces
between the layers of tissue that surround the brain (subdural,
epidural and subarachnoid bleeding) or within the brain tissue itself.
- Concussions, where head injury occurs without bleeding
- A symptom of whiplash and neck injury
b. Blood vessel problems in the head
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) may cause headache before
- The carotid artery in the neck can become inflamed and
- Temporal arteritis (inflammation of the temporal artery)
c. Non-blood vessel problems of the
- Brain tumors, either primary, originating in the brain or
metastatic from a cancer that began in another organ
- Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, once named
pseudotumor cerebri, where there is too much cerebrospinal fluid
pressure within the spinal canal.
d. Medications and drugs (including
withdrawal from those drugs)
- Systemic infections (for example, pneumonia or influenza)
f. Changes in the body's environment
g. Problems with the eyes, ears, nose
throat, teeth and neck
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Renal dialysis
h. Psychiatric disorders
The brain in itself is not sensitive to pain, because it lacks
nociceptors. However, several areas of the head and neck do have
nociceptors, and can thus sense pain. These include the extracranial
arteries, large veins, cranial and spinal nerves, head and neck
muscles, the meninges, raised intracranial pressure, disturbance of the
intracerebral serotonergic levels.
While, statistically, headaches are most likely to be primary (harmless
and self-limiting), some specific secondary headache syndromes may
demand specific treatment or may be warning signals of more serious
disorders. Differentiating between primary and secondary headaches can
As it is often difficult for patients to recall the precise details
regarding each headache, it is often useful for the sufferer to
fill-out a "headache diary" detailing the characteristics of the
When the headache does not clearly fit into one of the recognized
primary headache syndromes or when atypical symptoms or signs are
present then further investigations are justified. Neuroimaging
(noncontrast head CT) is recommended if there are new neurological
problems such as decreased level of consciousness, one sided weakness,
pupil size difference, etc or if the pain is of sudden onset and
severe, or if the person is known HIV positive. People over the age of
50 years may also warrant a CT scan.
When to see the doctor:
- If your headache is not relieved by over the counter drugs.
- If it persists for over 2 weeks.
- If it is associated with other features like nausea,
vomiting, tingling on the face, etc.
- If the pain is too severe as to be unbearable
- If it occurs suddenly along with pain and stiffness in the
neck and feeling of weakness in a particular part of the body.
1.In cases of secondary headaches, underlying cause has to be finding
out and treatment must be according to that only.
2.In conventional medicines- treatment of primary headaches are simple
analgesia (painkillers) such as paracetamol/acetaminophen or members of
the NSAID class (such as aspirin/acetylsalicylic acid, diclofenac or
3.Homoeopathy- Homeopathy is meant to enhance the body's natural
healing and encourages your body's own ability to heal itself. It aims
to cure the disease and not just palliate the symptoms like pain.
Homeopathic treatment uses diluted quantities of various plants,
mineral or animal substances to focus on the root cause of an illness.
It treats the person as a whole. It means that homeopathic treatment
focuses on the patient as a person, as well as his pathological
condition. The homeopathic medicines are selected after a full
individualized examination and case-analysis, which includes the
medical history of the patient, physical and mental constitution etc.
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