What causes Headache ? Reasons Explained

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Everybody experiences headache multiple times in a lifetime, sometimes mild and sometimes severe. But what exactly causes headache ? Is it some indication of some over-activity in brain, some problem with brain/body, or a way to distract us from something ? Our body is a puzzle and nobody has completely understood it yet. But here we will try to bring some facts about headache that are discovered by researchers till now.

Classification of Headaches

Primary Headache: These headache are caused by over-activity or problem with brain structure such as blood vessels, muscles and nerves of head and neck. Its examples are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
Secondary Headache: These headache are caused by some other underlying medical condition in our body. For example :  hangover, influenza, dehydration, ice-cream headaches, brain tumor, stroke etc. Any pain in our body indicates some problem in that particular body part, except secondary headache. Secondary headache is not usually generated due to some problem in head, but may be due to problem in some other part. Treating that medical condition cures our headache as well. 

Understanding Primary Headache

There are three types of primary Headache :
  • Migraine Headache
  • Tension Headache
  • Cluster headache
Reason behind migraine headache is not completely understood, however it affects more than 12% of the population and women are 4 times more prone to it. There are different types of migraine depending on the severity of symptoms, which are discussed in other article. Read More about Migraine.

Cluster headaches are very rare and affect just 0.1% of population. Men in their late 20s are usually affected by it, but women and children can also get affected by it. Those affected by cluster headache often wake up at the same time every night due to headache on same side of head or over the eyebrow.

Tension Headache is the most common primary headache that is faced by more than 90% of population in their lifetime. The real reason is unknown behind this pain, but most of the medical practitioners agree on the fact that physical or emotions stress makes our skull muscles to contract, which cause pain sensation in head. Women are more prone to tension headaches. Tension headache usually feels like a tight band around your head and it is usually mild and steady. It usually occurs without any pattern.

Here we will discuss tension headache in detail, as it is the most occurring headache among humans.

Common reasons behind tension headache

Muscle tension or contraction in face, temple, neck or shoulder is generally the primary reason behind tension headache, but what causes such muscle tension is probably the accurate reason behind tension headache. 

  • Holding your head in same position for too long : It often occurs when you are sitting in front of a screen while typing, reading or watching something.
  • Sleeping with neck in a wrong position : It can also trigger headache along with muscle strain on your shoulder or neck.
  • Stress or Depression: Mental Stress or depression can cause skeletal muscle contractions that can cause headache.
  • Head injury can also cause muscle tension or contraction in the skull region.
  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding also puts your face muscles under stress.
  • Eye Strain is directly connected to our facial muscles. Those jobs that need high level of visual concentration can cause headache. Some times headache is also a signal of eyesight problems.

Treating Tension Headache

Massaging the scalp is the best way to treat tension headache, but it the intensity of pain is not getting controlled then you may use some over-the-counter pain killer. If headache occurs more than 15 days in a month then you should consult a medical practitioner or take a look at your lifestyle to check if you are actually putting yourself under too much stress.
If you feel that you are getting headache more than 15 days in a month, then its better to keep a record of them and the medication used by you, which may help your doctor in diagnosing your condition.  

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