Head | - Others | Headache (Symptom)
A headache is defined as a pain in the head or upper neck. It is one of the most common locations of pain in the body and has many causes. The majority of headaches last for only a few hours, but some persist for weeks. Pain may occur in only one part of the head, such as above the eyes, or it may be spread across the entire head. The type of pain varies: it may be sharp and sudden or dull and constant. Sometimes, other symptoms, such as nausea, occur at the same time.
Headache is a non-specific symptom, which means that it has many possible causes. The brain itself is not sensitive to pain, because it lacks pain receptors. However, several areas of the head and neck do have nociceptors, and can thus sense pain. These include the extracranial arteries, large veins, cranial and spinal nerves, head and neck muscles and the meninges.
Headaches come in various forms: tension, migraine, sinus, and cluster headaches. The most common cause of headaches is prolonged tension or stress. These are called tension headaches or muscle-contraction headaches.
Virtually everyone suffers from this at some time. Muscles in the scalp, neck, and face tighten and contract, causing spasms and pain. Psychological factors such as anxiety, fatigue (e. g. eyestrain), and stress (e. g. long periods of concentration) as well as mechanical factors such as neck strain (e. g. working on a computer for prolonged periods) are often the culprits behind a typical tension headache.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying etiology or cause, but commonly involves analgesics.