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Statistics from the American Migraine Prevalence study shows that 20 percent of Americans have headaches each day. The prevalent rate of headaches is very high, and just like any other illness, headaches has been linked to absenteeism in work or school leading to a decline in output. While most people take over the counter medication to combat headaches, it is imperative to know what exactly causes headaches in the first place. The following post seeks to outline the various types and causes of headaches.
What is headache?
For starters, headache is a general term that encompasses some things. Headaches can be-be defined as pains that occur around the head region. Headaches or cephalgia (in medical terms) usually accompanies a wide range of diseases and conditions. Headaches usually manifest with a sharp piercing like pain that usually lasts for some hours or multiple days.
The International Headache Society classifies headaches as primary headaches or secondary headaches depending on what has instigated them.
Primary headaches are usually as a result of hyperactivity or underlying problems with pain-receptive structures in the head caused by chemical activities in the brain. The common primary headaches include tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines. A primary headache is usually triggered by some lifestyle factors such as:
- Alcohol: beverages containing alcoholic content is known to cause primary headaches to some users especially those with high alcohol content.
- Anxiety: troves of studies have also linked stress as a cause of primary headaches.
- Poor posture: exerting pressure on one side of the body has also been proven by scientist to cause stress.
- Foods: Foods that are rich in nitrates such as processed meat have been proven to trigger primary headaches.
- Sleeping pattern: a sudden change in the sleeping pattern also causes primary headaches. Cognitive psychologists recommend 8 hours of sleep to avert such problems.
- Lack of physical activity: even though strenuous physical activities increases the risk of headaches, staying sedentary also leads to headaches. Hence, moderation is always the key.
- Noise: not only loud but even lower levels of continuous noise can also lead to headaches.
- Glare: too much brightness from laptops screens and overhead lights can also cause a primary headache.
Secondary headaches are usually symptoms of other conditions that trigger the pain receptors of the head. There is a myriad of different conditions that can stimulate secondary headaches, ranging in severity from brain freeze to brain tumor.
The following are the complications that can induce a secondary headache.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning- this leads to the deficiency of oxygen in the body which also leads to other life-threatening conditions.
- Concussion: concussion is a result of an injury inflicted to the head. Concussion leads to a secondary headache.
- Dehydration: lack of water in the body may also manifest itself in secondary headaches.
- Brain tumor and brain inflammation: the two conditions manifest themselves through headaches
- Middle Ear Infection: ear infection also causes secondary headaches on some individuals.
- A brain aneurysm: a swell in an artery in the brain also leads to painful headaches.