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Headache, also known as cephalgia, is any kind of pain in the head, face, or neck. There are two types of headaches: primary headaches and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches, despite their pain, are seldom dangerous and are not linked with underlying disease or structural problems.

Secondary headaches are often characterized by a sudden onset and severe pain. These are often the result of an underlying illness or trauma that activates pain receptors. Secondary headaches are less common than primary headaches, but they are often considerably more severe and are accompanied by additional symptoms produced by the underlying illness.

Other types of headaches are:

  • Tension headache: Adults and teenagers are the most often afflicted by the most common kind of headache i.e. tension headaches. They may cause moderate to severe pain. This type of headache develops and goes over time without any other symptoms.


  • Cluster headache: It is the most intense type of headache. It is possible to have severe searing or piercing pain behind or around the eyes. Its intensity may be pulsating or continuous. Cluster headaches may be severe enough that the majority of sufferers are unable to sit still and often pace throughout an episode. It often occurs in clusters of three or more. Each headache episode lasts between 15 and 3 hours on average. They are capable of awakening the person from a deep sleep.


  • Sinus headache: It is characterized by throbbing pain in one or more of the following areas: the forehead, bridge of the nose or the cheekbones. They are caused by inflammation of the sinuses. Additional sinus headache symptoms, such as anear fullness, runny nose, fever, and a swollen face, may develop in addition to the pain.


  • Migraine: It is described as pumping and throbbing that cause the headache behind the eyes. It may last from four hours to three days. Patients may have pain, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to noise, light, or smells, and lack of appetite.


  • Cervicogenic headache: It occurs when pain is sent to the brain from the neck. This discomfort is often characterized as a constant aching or dull sensation.


Pain is produced by a mix of impulses transmitted between the brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves. Primary headaches are caused mostly by chemical activity in the brain, nerves or blood vessels. Individuals with particular genes may be genetically prone to severe headaches.Pain signals are sent to the brain when certain neurons in the blood vessels and head muscles are activated.

The most common kind of headache is tension headache, which affects the top of the head. They are thought to be caused by factors such as poor nutrition, a lack of physical activity, stress or insufficient sleep. They are distinguished by a dull ache, tightness, or constant pressure leading to headache on top of head.

Headaches may occur because of a blow to the head or, less often, as a symptom of a more severe medical condition such as cancer.

Some of the headache causes are listed below:

  • Illness: Infections, fevers and colds are the common illnesses with the symptom of headache. Similarly, covid infection also results in covid headache.


  • Stress and Lifestyle factors: Emotional discomfort and sorrow, excessive alcohol use, altering sleep patterns and skipping meals are all risk factors. Other possible reasons include neck and back discomfort caused by improper posture.


  • Trauma: Headaches may occur because of head trauma after a fall or car accident due to trauma.


  • Brain tumor: aneurysm or brain tumor may induce headaches. Pressure is exerted to the brain when the skull is congested with blood or additional tissue, causing pain.

Other secondary causes of headaches include:

  • Brain freeze i.e. ice cream induced headache
  • Panic attacks
  • Dental issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypertension
  • Meningitis
  • Hangover
  • Encephalitis
  • Stroke

Waking up with a headache is also a common occurrence due to a number of sleep or health issues. Sleep apnea and insomnia are the main causes of headaches in this case.


The symptoms of a headache can vary greatly, but they usually include persistent or intermittent pain or discomfort in the head or upper neck area. Headaches are grouped into several varieties, including tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches, each with symptoms. Common headache symptoms are dull, unbearable pain, throbbing sensations, pressure, and often nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and visual abnormalities. Headaches can also vary in strength and length, ranging from moderate and infrequent to severe and regular occurrences.


A complete medical history and physical examination by a healthcare provider are often used to diagnose headaches. It is critical to understand the nature of the pain, its triggers, and any accompanying symptoms. Imaging procedures such as CT scans or MRIs may be conducted in some circumstances to rule out underlying structural abnormalities in the brain. Healthcare practitioners frequently use diagnostic criteria and patient-reported symptoms to distinguish various headache forms, such as migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.


The nature and underlying cause of the headache heavily influence headache treatment. Some people benefit from lifestyle adjustments such as stress management techniques, regular sleep habits, and nutritional improvements. 

Mild headaches may be relieved by over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Prescription medications, such as migraine-specific treatments or preventive medications, may be administered for more severe or recurring headaches. Non-pharmacological methods such as relaxation, biofeedback, or physical therapy may also be suggested. Identifying and addressing the unique headache triggers and causes is critical for developing a successful treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs.

When To See A Doctor

Whenever you have your worst headache, see a doctor immediately. If you lose vision or consciousness or vomit uncontrollably, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you have a headache that lasts more than 72 hours with just a few hours of pain-free time, consult a doctor immediately. In case your headache gets worse with time, you need to consult a primary care physician. To get rid of the headache, you need to rest and have painkillers. Sometimes hot or cold compresses are also advised.


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about headache or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.