Symptoms, causes, and treatments for
Headaches affect most people throughout their lives. Because a headache can be a symptom of hundreds of different illnesses, just having a headache doesn’t mean you’re suffering from a serious condition.
Generally, a headache means you’re experiencing varying levels of pain at one or more spots in your head that lasts for a few hours or a few days at most. Your brain isn’t experiencing the pain itself, which is a common misconception. Instead, your brain will transmit pain signals to the actual areas of your head which are in pain, which are generally the blood vessels and nerves surrounding your head.
Some people get headaches in the same spot, but a headache can appear on both sides and the front and back of your head.
Typical headache symptoms include:
There are several different types of headaches. A tension headache is the most common one people experience.
A migraine is a chronic, severe type of headache that can last for hours, and, depending on the individual, occurs several times weekly, monthly, or yearly. Migraine sufferers experience light sensitivity, nausea, severe head pain, and dizziness.
Common conditions that can cause headaches include:
However, if you’re not sick but still experiencing a headache you may be able to blame environmental changes. For example, tension headaches can appear from excess strain of the neck and shoulder muscles, brought on by bad posture at your computer or poor sleeping positions. Environmental factors include eye strain from computer work, not eating enough throughout the day, pollution, bothersome lighting (think flickering fluorescent lights), and cigarette smoke.
The underlying cause of migraines isn’t fully understood known. They could be caused by family genetics. Some people trigger a migraine through exercise, eating certain foods, or during a menstrual cycle. Most sufferers have to learn how to manage a migraine, say by reducing light exposure if they’re sensitive during an episode, than using any foolproof prevention methods.
Even though most headaches aren’t indicative of a serious underlying medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention if you have a headache and any of these additional symptoms:
Likewise, if you experience headaches more often than normal—or if your pain worsens with each new headache, even without additional severe symptoms—you should talk to a doctor. They can help you determine if there’s a more serious condition causing the changes.
Consider these tips to help prevent headaches: