Headache : A Silent Killer
Headache is a common complaint worldwide.A headache can occur in any part of the head, on both sides of the head, or in just one location.
Headaches can radiate across the head from a central point or have a vise-like quality. They can be sharp, throbbing or dull, appear gradually or suddenly. They can last from less than an hour up to several days.
There are different ways to define headaches. The International Headache Society (IHS) categorize headaches as primary, when they are not caused by another condition, or secondary, when there is a further underlying cause.
Primary headaches are stand-alone illnesses caused directly by the overactivity of, or problems with, structures in the head that are pain-sensitive.
This includes the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of the head and neck. They may also result from changes in chemical activity in the brain.
Common primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches are symptoms that happen when another condition stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. In other words, the headache symptoms can be attributed to another cause.
A wide range of different factors can cause secondary headaches.
As headaches can be a symptom of a serious condition, it is important to seek medical advice if they become more severe, regular, or persistent.
The symptoms of a headache can depend on the type.
Tension headaches are the most common form of primary headache. Such headaches normally begin slowly and gradually in the middle of the day.
The person can feel:
as if they have a tight band around the heada constant, dull ache on both sidespain spread to or from the neck
Tension-type headaches can be either episodic or chronic. Episodic attacks are usually a few hours in duration, but can last for several days. Chronic headaches occur for 15 or more days a month for a period of at least 3 months.
Migraine is the second most common form of primary headache and can have a significant impact on the life of an individual. According to the WHO, migraine is the sixth highest cause of days lost due to disability worldwide. A migraine can last from a few hours to between 2 and 3 days.
Rebound or medication-overuse headaches stem from an excessive use of medication to treat headache symptoms. They are the most common cause of secondary headaches. They usually begin early in the day and persist throughout the day. They may improve with pain medication, but worsen when its effects wear off.
Along with the headache itself, rebound headaches can cause:
- neck pain
- a feeling of nasal congestion
- reduced sleep quality