What Facts Should You Know About Headaches?

Head pain or headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The headache pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the skull or the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain. The pain caused by headache may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, intermittent, mild, or intense.

Classification of headache:

The International Headache Society, in 2013, categorized headache into three different categories. The headache categories based upon the source of the pain.

  • Primary headaches
  • Secondary headaches
  • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches

Primary headaches; it can affect the quality of life. These headaches are not life threatening and can resolve quickly while others are debilitating. Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. It may also include a variety of other less common types of headaches.

Secondary headaches; they occur due to an underlying structural or infectious problem in the head or neck. This headache category can cause life-threatening conditions like bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis. Medications overuse headaches or substance abuse (such as drinking too much alcohol) headaches are also included in this category.

Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches; neuralgia is nerve pain. Cranial neuralgia describes inflammation of one of the 12 cranial nerves coming from the brain that control the muscles and carry sensory signals to and from the head and neck. Most common example is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects cranial nerve V which is the sensory nerve that supplies the face and can cause intense facial pain when irritated or inflamed.

Types of headaches:

A headache type is depending upon the class to which they belong. Some common types are;

  • Episodic primary tension headaches
  • Chronic primary tension headaches
  • Primary muscle contraction headaches
  • Primary migraine headaches with aura
  • Primary migraine headaches without aura
  • Primary cluster headache
  • Primary paroxysmal hemicrania
  • Primary cough headache
  • Primary stabbing headache
  • Primary headache associated with sexual intercourse
  • Primary thunderclap headache
  • Hypnic headache which is a type headache that awaken a person from sleep
  • Hemicrania continua; that are persistently on one side only, right or left
  • New daily-persistent headache (a type of chronic headache)
  • Headache from exertion
  • Rigeminal neuralgia and other cranial nerve inflammation
  • Secondary headaches due to infection, trauma, disorders, substance abuse or due to structural problems


Common way of treating any type of headache is to take rest and pain relied medications. General pain relief medications are tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin receptor agonists, anti-epileptic drugs, and beta-blockers. Overusing pain relief medication can lead to rebound headache so it’s necessary to restrict or follow the doctor’s advice.

Other alternative for treating headache are acupuncture, cognitive behavior therapy, herbal and nutritional health products, hypnosis and mediation.

For further details and queries about how to deal with it call on 815.412.6166 at Zaki Anwar medical center.