Headache is one
of the most common ailments of human beings. Most people may think headache
is usually not serious, and is often caused by tension. Most people believe
incorrectly that eyestrain and the need for glasses are very common causes of
headaches. Eyestrain and the need for glasses are not major causes of headaches.
Causes and Symptoms
Almost all headaches can be divided into the following groups:
1. Muscle contraction
3. Diseases of the head, eyes, ears, teeth, etc.
Muscle contraction headaches are by far the most frequent type. The pain results from the pulling of muscles in the neck and at the base of the head. Commonly, the pain is not felt locally where the muscles are contracting. Instead, it may be "referred" to and felt in areas such as the forehead or the temples or the eye sockets. This can lead to confusion about the cause of the pain, since the pain is located in the head, or even in the eyes. However, the trouble usually originates in the neck muscles. Muscle contraction headaches can result from temporary increases in tension in everyday life, such as stress at work or at home. They may be a result of sleeping or working in a strange position, or of an unusually long period of close-up work. In these cases, however, the headache is usually temporary and is often relieved by a simple over-the-counter pain reliever.
by eye strain feel like muscle contraction headaches, but are clearly related
to use of the eyes. Almost
all headaches are made worse by extensive use of the eyes, but those which are
caused by eye strain appear only when the eyes have been used heavily.
Some muscle contraction headaches are longer-lasting and related to emotional feelings of depression. At other times, they may occur because of arthritis in the neck, or a chronic state of high tension or anxiety.
Migraine headaches are the next most common cause of headache. This type of headache pain is caused by stretching of the blood vessel walls in the head. Some people seem to have a tendency to this sort of stretching, while others do not. Migraine headaches run in families and affect about one person in ten. Even young children may have migraine headaches.
Migraine is difficult for patients to understand because it can produce different symptoms in different people. In some, several very brief, severe headaches may occur close together. In others, a visual display of moving jagged lines may be followed by a severe headache. Still others may see the visual display without headache, and some may have severe headache without other symptoms.
However, there are some common features of migraine headache. The pain tends not to be continuous, is often more severe on one side of the head, is often accompanied with nausea and vomiting, and is not often associated with serious complications. Migraine may occur with a sudden increase or decrease in stress level. For instance, a person entertaining an unwelcome guest, or a hardworking executive who begins an overdue vacation may experience a migraine.
Diseases are the least common cause of headache.
Headaches caused by eye disease are usually felt in the eye or in the brow on the side where the disease occurs. Frequently these headaches are associated with some other symptom, such as blurred vision, haloes around lights, or extreme sensitivity to light.
Headaches caused by diseases of the ear, teeth, jaw joint, or facial nerves are usually different than the usual headache pain and discomfort. This difference helps to determine the cause.
Headaches may also be caused by high blood pressure. A blood pressure measurement is, therefore, helpful in evaluating any lasting or recurring headache. Headache caused by brain tumor or disease is, fortunately, quite uncommon, and the pain may have several unique characteristics. For instance, it may appear quite suddenly, or as an increasingly severe headache pattern over several weeks or months. The intensity of the headache may
change depending on body position, sometimes becoming unusually severe when the head is down. It is often associated with other symptoms such as numbness, dizziness, weakness, or seizures. Most of all, such headaches tend to become dramatically worse with the passage of time.