Headaches - Topic Overview
Headaches are one of the most
common pain-related health problems in both children and adults. You may have a
headache along with another minor health problem such as a sore throat, cold,
or sinus problem.
The most common types of headaches
usually are not serious but may occur again and again.
- Tension headaches are the most common
type of headache and are often caused by stress and emotional strain. Most
adults have tension headaches from time to time, and everyone may have different areas of pain .
- Cluster headaches
- Migraine headaches. Approximately one-third of people who have migraine headaches
first began having them as teenagers.
Common causes of headaches
- Alcohol, caffeine, or other drug use or
- Changes in the levels of chemicals in the body (neurotransmitters).
- Coughing or
problems or procedures, such as pain from grinding the teeth or from a root
- Eating or drinking cold foods and
- Emotional stress.
- Exposure to smoke or fumes
from chemicals, including
altitude. Lower oxygen levels at high altitudes can cause
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- Infection in the
sinuses , such as
sinusitis or an
- Medical procedures, such as the
aftereffects of a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
- Medicines. Many medicines can cause
- Muscle strain in the neck, upper back, or shoulder
- Upper respiratory infections.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
a headache may be a
symptom of a serious illness. Other symptoms, such as
vomiting, dizziness, or changes in vision, may also be present. The following
serious illnesses or injuries can cause headaches.
- A head injury:
- Injury to the brain (concussion)
- Fracture of
- Bleeding in or around the brain
- Brain tumor, which causes swelling
within the brain
- Infection in the brain (encephalitis)
or of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Stroke, a
problem that occurs when a blood vessel (artery) that supplies blood to the
brain bursts or is blocked by a blood clot
- A rupture of a blood
vessel with bleeding in or around the brain (aneurysm)
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.