What is a headache?
Pain is one of your body’s ways of signaling illness. But headache pain is different. For most headaches, even when the pain is severe, there’s no underlying disease such as a brain tumor or hemorrhage.
The cause of headache pain is still a mystery to the experts, but the pieces of the headache puzzle are coming together. A few years ago it was different. Tensing your facial muscles or chronic tightening of your scalp and neck muscles used to be blamed for a tension headache. So was an inability to deal with daily stress. Migraine was considered something entirely different. Doctors attributed migraine to blood vessels in the brain constricting and then relaxing, altering blood flow.
Today, researchers are zeroing in on the trigeminal (tri–GEM–i–nal) nerve system and the nerve chemical serotonin (ser–o–TOE–nin) as one set of possible culprits.
Your head can ache in a variety of ways:
The pain can range from mild to excruciating, annoying to incapacitating.
- Frequency and duration
It can strike occasionally or daily, lasting a few minutes to hours or days.
- Related symptoms
It can be accompanied by other problems, such as nausea or vomiting or with changes in vision, hearing, and other sensory or even muscle functions in complex cases.
The pain can be localized in one spot or engulf your entire head.
The most common headache is, everyone’s “Pain in the neck”. In young or very slender people it often prevails in the morning, is sited at the forehead and frequently comes along with a deep blood pressure that may lead to short dizziness when getting up too fast. This lead to the name of “Vasomotor headache” with a relationship to common migraine.
In other patients you find normal blood pressure, but the patient seems to be irritable, depressed perhaps, and sorrowful. Here the psychogenic factors prevail clearly. In some cases it is caused by psychotic or depressive disorder.
Tension headaches are the most common and are caused by contraction of the muscles around the neck, face and head. Sinus headaches are caused by clogged sinuses in the face and forehead. Migraine and cluster headaches are caused by sudden changes in blood vessels in the brain and scalp.