Also known as: head pain, cephalalgia

What are headaches?

Any type of pain in the head, neck, and face can be classified as a headache. Headaches come in many different forms and vary in cause and severity. Some pass on their own in a short time, while others are severe and require treatment.

What causes headaches?

Headaches are typically divided into two categories; “primary” and “secondary”.

  • “Secondary” means the headaches are due to another medical or neurologic condition or sometimes medication.
  • “Primary” means that they occur because you are prone to them, often because of a genetic predisposition. In patients with primary headache disorders, there are many potential triggers.

The most common primary headache disorders in the general population are tension type headache and migraine.

What are the symptoms of headaches?

Headache pain can range from a dull ache or squeezing sensation, to a severe sharp pain or throbbing, to shooting. Pain may be present in only one part of the head or the entire head at once. Headaches can last anywhere from seconds to months.

Certain headache types may be associated with other symptoms, such a light or sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, vision changes, numbness or tingling, and eye tearing or runny nose.

What are headache care options?

The options for treatment vary depending on the type of headache being treated, but typically may include a combination of medication, lifestyle modifications, psychological interventions, and occasionally procedures.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Hagler MD

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2020 09:33 AM

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