Headache: Symptoms and Treatements

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Common Causes of Headaches

A headache is a condition characterized by mild to severe pain in the head; symptoms that are often experienced by may people the world over. The most common types of headaches are due to tension or migraine, or a combination of both. More serious causes of headache such as stroke, brain tumor, bleed inside the skull, infections (meningitis), etc are rare and it is advisable to consult your doctor if the pain is severe or if continues for extended periods of time.

Tension Headaches

Tension Headaches often develop after a hard days work involving physical and emotional stress, anxiety and worry. Most people experience it during the course of their lives but it is often harmless and tends to go away with a little rest. Tension Headache makes the head feel like it is in a vice like grip or like a tight band is rapped around it, both sides of the head are generally affected and there may be a feeling of tension or discomfort around the upper back, shoulders and the neck.
Migraine Headaches
Migraine Headache is a type of vascular headache. According to researchers the cause is often genetic.


Migraine attacks are a chronic condition associated with headache often on one side of the head. It is often accompanied with nausea, sensitivity to light & blurred vision. A pounding or piercing sensation is felt with the pain and it could range from being very mild to being extremely severe preventing the person from performing normal tasks. Headaches can last from 24 hours up to a few days.

Migraine headaches are most common among women in their mid teens to late forties; men also suffer from this condition but not as often as women.

Migraine attacks are caused by a combination of enlargement of blood vessels and a secretion of pain producing substances around the nerves and blood vessels in the head. The cause of this secretion and enlargement is generally unknown. Many researchers seem to think that the condition is genetic.


Early and mild conditions can be controlled with anti-inflammatory drugs, however the use of steroids is not recommended. Drugs that control nausea may also be used if the patient feels nauseated and is vomiting very often. A combination of aspirin and caffeine may be very useful to relieve the symptoms. Severe cases require specialised medical care and patients are advised to visit their physician to rule out any other causes.


Migraine is a chronic condition, however patients can keep it at bay by following a disciplined routine - Eat at regular times, don’t skip meals, keep physically fit, try to get at least 6 hours of sleep a day during the regular sleep hours, avoid unnecessary stress and stressful environment, stop smoking and reduce the intake of alcohol.

What does the Doctor say?

Generally most headaches go away with a little rest. However one should take it seriously if there is a change in pattern of a longstanding headache, associated fever or vomiting, visual problems like blurring or double vision, it is advisable to consult your doctor. Timely medical evaluation and diagnosis is mandatory.

Dr Chandran Gnanamuthu, MD, DM, FIAN, FAAN
Senior Consultant Neurologist, Wockhardt Hospitals


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