What is a headache?
Headache Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
A headache is a condition characterised by pain on any part of the head. It could be felt on the top, at the back area near the neck, or behind the eyes. Headache is usually felt on one part of the head, but it’s possible to feel pain across the entire span of the head as well.
There are several possible causes of a headache, although they typically do not result in a highly serious condition. Over-the-counter painkillers are usually enough to manage the symptoms associated with simple and mild headaches.
However, as non-serious headaches may seem, there are cases where the headache presents as a symptom of an underlying medical problem. Other symptoms may be present alongside the headache, or it could grow into a severe pain that greatly affects your daily activities. Seek a doctor’s advice if you suspect your headache is a part of a different medical illness.
Headaches are one of the most common health conditions in the world. The World Health Organisation even estimated that almost half of the world’s adult population have experienced at least one headache in the previous year. You’ve probably experienced one headache type at some point in your life by now.
ou are more at risk for developing headaches if you are:
- Undergoing a large amount of stress
- A chronic alcohol drinker
- Constantly eating nitrate-rich food like meat and dark chocolate
- In the habit of skipping meals
- Always getting only a few hours of sleep
- Not hydrated enough
- Exhibiting a poor posture
It is important to identify if you have any of these risk factors so that you can effectively reduce or eliminate them in your life.
Here are the typical symptoms you’ll experience if you get a headache:
- Pressure on the head
- Dull aches in the head
- Throbbing or pounding pain
- Sharp pains
- Scalp soreness and tenderness
- Generalized feeling of sickness
- Eye pain upon directly looking at bright lights
When to see a doctor
Watch out for the following occurrences that may necessitate a prompt visit to your physician:
- Regular headaches that do not go away despite treatment
- Headaches so severe it interrupts your activities of daily living
- Over-the-counter painkillers fail to work or headache getting worse despite painkiller intake
- Increased sensitivity to light and noise while experiencing a headache
- Nausea, vomiting, or numbness in the arms or legs accompanying the headache
Remember that if these symptoms and your actual headache become so severe, you must immediately proceed to your hospital’s nearest A&E or phone 111 stat.
You can take advantage of Mobidoctor’s online video consultation programme to get medical advice in minutes without leaving the comforts of your home. Our GPs will see you, assess your symptoms, and come up with a diagnosis and prescription for your headache.
Several kinds of headaches fall under two categories, namely:
- Primary Headaches
- Secondary Headaches
Both these headaches may be caused by various factors that may range from physical injury to serious medical conditions. Primary headaches are not symptoms of underlying medical conditions, whereas secondary headaches appear as a result of other medical illnesses or problems.
Secondary headaches appear as a symptom of an underlying medical condition. They are often more serious than primary headaches due to the illnesses which they are a part of.
Suspect a secondary headache if:
- Headaches appear on a sudden onset
- It is felt after a physical head injury
- Headache gets worse and refuses to go away
- It is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, slurred speech, weakness, or paralysis
Possible causes of a secondary headache include:
- Brain tumour
- Sinus problems
- Trauma to the head and neck
- Ear infections
- Problems in blood vessels and blood clots
- Panic attacks
- High blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalance
- An effect of certain medications
Talk to your doctor right away if you think you have a secondary headache.