Headaches are the pain in the head area. They can be mild or severe, and some can even be debilitating. Most people will experience headaches in their lives, but most only last a couple of hours and go away on their own. Headaches may occur on the front, back, or either side of the head. They may also be spread out over large areas or clustered in small areas. They can be sharp and throbbing or just dull and achy. They can come on suddenly or gradually and last for a few minutes or a few days.
Many things can cause a headache. Some of them are common, and others are more serious. Most headaches aren’t caused by a serious health condition or disease, but some can be a sign of an underlying problem. Some of the common causes of headaches include:
- Certain foods
- Changes in sleep
- Lack of sleep
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals
- Sinus infection
- Blood clots
- Brain aneurysm
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- High blood pressure
- Vision problems
There are more than 100 different types of headaches based on their character and location.
Headaches are often the symptom of another illness, condition, or disease. The most common symptom of a headache is pain. Other symptoms may accompany a headache, such as vision problems, hearing problems, nausea, and dizziness. People who are suffering headaches as a result of an underlying cause may also have symptoms that are related to that cause.
Doctors must diagnose the underlying cause of a headache to determine how to effectively treat it. Because headaches are a symptom of so many different health problems, this can sometimes be difficult. Doctors will use a variety of tests to diagnose the issue. These tests include:
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can rule out infections and other issues.
- MRI: MRIs can show injuries or damage to the brain or head.
- CT Scan: CT scans can show doctors what the brain looks like, so they can check for injuries, aneurysms, tumors, and other problems.
- Spinal Tap: Spinal taps can check the spinal fluid for infections. The fluid is collected and then sent to a lab, where it is tested.
- Allergy Test: Some allergies can cause headaches. An allergy test can show if the patient has any allergies.
Treatment can be focused on treating the cause of the headache as well as the headache itself. Some patients only require a one-time treatment, while others require long-term treatment. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Pain medication
- Blood pressure medication
- Anti-nausea medication
- Allergy medication
- Nutritional recommendations
Most people experience headaches occasionally and are capable of living a normal life in spite of them. If doctors find an underlying cause of the headaches, it can also be treated, and the headaches may go away. Some people have severe headaches that are called migraines. The pain and symptoms of a migraine can be so severe that they are debilitating. Finding the cause and an effective treatment is essential.
American Academy of Neurology. www.aan.com