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Headache: Summary. What you need to know.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 09:35

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

  • Almost everyone experiences a headache at one time or another. Headache is one of the most common forms of pain, affecting 7 out of 10 people at least once a year.

  • There are many types of headaches, and people experience them in different ways.

  • Although headaches can be excruciatingly painful, they rarely indicate a serious or life-threatening medical condition.

  • Severe, sudden headaches (in a person without a significant history of such headaches) warrant medical attention.

  • Headache pain does not start in the brain, because the brain has no nerve endings. However, many of the structures and layers of cells surrounding the brain do have nerve endings and pain fibers. If these layers are inflamed, compressed, or otherwise stimulated, pain results.

  • Headache pain can be difficult to diagnose and treat because the source of the pain is not always obvious.

  • Tension-type headaches are the most common form of headache. They may be constant or occasional. Although tension headaches are usually not severely painful, they can be debilitating.

  • Twenty-eight million Americans suffer from migraines, and 70 percent of migraine sufferers are women.

  • Although it’s not often recognized, medication overuse headache is a common type of headache. Medication overuse headache is caused by overuse of the medications used to relieve headache pain.

  • Methods of diagnosis for headache vary depending on the type and severity of pain. It can be difficult to verify a headache type or the exact cause of the pain.

  • Headaches can be treated using both conventional and alternative remedies including over-the-counter and prescription medications, relaxation therapy. Hospitalization may sometimes be necessary.

  • Medications for headache include drugs that help control the pain during the headache and those that help prevent headache from happening.

  • Effective treatment does not necessarily depend on an exact diagnosis of headache type.

 

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