Almost everyone gets headaches sometime or other. Some people complain of headache more often and resort to application of some pain balm or swallowing some headache tablet.
Mostly the headaches are caused by something simple, such as staying up too late in the night resulting in lack of proper sleep, remaining around in the sun for a long time, or mental stress because of some problem or other.
Although it may feel like it, a headache is not actually a pain in our brain.
The brain tells us when other parts of our body hurt, but it cannot feel pain itself.
Most headaches happen in the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles that cover our head and neck.
Sometimes the muscles or blood vessels swell, tighten, or go through other changes that stimulate the surrounding nerves or put pressure on them.
These nerves send a rush of pain messages to the brain, and this brings on a headache.
The most common type of headache is a tension, or muscle-contraction headache.
This happens when stressed-out head or neck muscles keep squeezing too hard. With this kind of headache, the pain is usually dull and constant.
It might feel as though something is pressing or squeezing on the front, back, or both sides of our head.
Sometimes we also get headaches when we are sick, we may have a sinus headache when we have a cold, flu, or allergies.
People who drink a lot of caffeinated drinks might get caffeine- withdrawal headaches. And some headaches are the side effects of taking some medications.
Pain that is especially sharp and throbbing can be a sign of a migraine headache.
Migraine headaches are not as common as tension headaches.
One big difference between tension headaches and migraines is that migraines sometimes cause people to feel sick or even to throw up.
Tension headaches typically do not cause nausea or vomiting, and they are usually not made worse by physical activity, which is another thing that can happen with migraines.
Most migraines last anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours. Some can last as long as a couple of days.
Strong headache pain can be frightening for people who have not had it before. But it is rare that a headache is a sign of something serious.
If something is wrong, like a brain tumor or meningitis, the person will most likely notice other signs as well.
Lots of different things can bring on headaches. Most headaches are related to, stress, dehydration, computer or TV watching, hearing loud music, smoking, taking alcohol, taking caffeine, skipping meals, lack of sleep, a bump to the head, taking a long trip in a car or bus.
The following kinds of infections can also bring on headaches in some people, such as flu, sinus infections, strep throat ,urinary tract infections,ear infections.
For some teens, hormonal changes can also cause headaches.
Some girls get headaches just before their periods or at other regular times during their monthly cycle.
Migraine headaches often are hereditary.
So if a parent, grandparent, or other family member gets them, there is a chance we may get them.
Certain things,called triggers are known to bring on migraine headaches in people who are predisposed to getting them.
Some of the things that can trigger migraines are certain foods, stress, changes in sleep patterns, or even the weather.
Most headaches will go away if a person rests or sleeps.
When we get a headache, we must lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room and close our eyes.
It may help to put a cool, moist cloth across our forehead or eyes.
We must relax and breathe easily and deeply.
If a headache does not go away or it is really bad, we may take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
We can buy these in drugstores under various brand names.
It is better to avoid taking aspirin for a headache because it may cause a rare but dangerous disease called Reye syndrome.
If we are taking over-the-counter pain medications more than twice a week for headaches, or if we find these medicines are not working for us, it is a sign that we should consult our doctor.
If we think our headaches may be migraines, we must see a doctor to treat them and learn ways to try to avoid getting the headaches in the first place.
Sometimes relaxation exercises or changes in diet or sleeping habits will be needed. But if necessary, a doctor will prescribe medication to control headaches.
It is very rare that headaches are a sign of something serious.
But we must see a doctor if we have headaches more than three times a month or have a headache that is particularly painful and different from the kinds of headaches we have had before, or does not go away easily, or follows an injury, such as hitting our head.
We will also want to see a doctor if we have any of these symptoms in addition to a headache ,such as, changes in vision, such as blurriness or seeing spots, tingling sensations along with the headache, skin rash, weakness, dizziness, or difficulty walking or standing, neck pain or stiffness, fever.
If we see a doctor for headaches, the doctor may want to do a physical examination and get our medical history to help figure out what might be causing the headaches.
Sometimes family doctors will refer people with headaches they think might be migraines or a symptom of a more serious problem to a specialist like a neurologist.
The doctor may ask us about, how severe and frequent our headaches are, when they happen, any medications we are taking, any allergies we may have, any stress we might be experiencing, our diet, habits, sleeping patterns, and what seems to help or worsen the headaches.
The doctor may also take blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out any complicated problems.