Head Pain & Headaches

Headaches, one of the most common health-related ailments, involve pain or discomfort in the head, face, or upper neck. There are over 150 types of headaches, ranging from mild to severe. Headache frequency, location, and pain intensity vary depending on the type of headache.

Headaches are classified into two general types: primary and secondary. Headache treatments vary, depending on the specific type of headache, frequency, and cause.

  • Primary headaches are responsible for approximately 90 percent of all headaches. A primary headache means that the headache itself is the main medical issue, although there may be other contributing factors. Certain triggers may cause a primary headache, including certain foods, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, or poor posture. Primary headaches may also have a genetic component. Types of primary headaches include, but are not limited to, migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.
  • Secondary headaches occur due to an underlying medical condition. Examples include, but are not limited to, sinus infections, head or neck injuries, exertion, allergies, tumors, high blood pressure, trigeminal neuralgia, and stroke. Types of secondary headaches include, but are not limited to, post-traumatic headaches, external compression headaches, hormone-related headaches, thunderclap headaches, and cervicogenic headaches.

It’s important to note that an abrupt, severe headache requires emergency medical attention. Headaches accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizure, double vision, numbness, or difficulty speaking also indicate an emergency. A health care professional should also be consulted if a headache develops due to injury or worsens from coughing, straining, or sudden movement.

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