Headache or pain in the head is one of the most common complaints compelling people to seek medical treatment. No age is exempt from it, though frequency increases with age. Men and women both are affected.
Headache is a manifestation of wide variety of physical and mental conditions. High fever due to any cause is associated with headache which improves as the fever is cleared.
Chronic sinusitis causes headache which is throbbing, localized to part of the sinus affected and is aggravated on looking down. Pressing the affected side invokes pain.
Infections or inflammation of the eyes, ears or teeth manifest as localized pain which may be referred to the head or may occur in head only.
Infections of the brain substance or covering like meningitis, encephalitis would lead to severe headache. Tumors of the brain are yet another cause for pain in the head where pain is associated with projectile vomiting, i.e. vomiting without nausea. Head injury manifests as pain like injury anywhere else.
High blood pressure manifests as headache which is pulsatile in character and commonly located over temporal region.
It mostly occurs in the early morning when due to biological rhythm of the body there is peak surge of adrenalin causing high blood pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension can precipitate stroke which again will cause severe headache.
Digestive troubles like constipation , gases or dyspepsia are known to lead to dull generalized headache which a person fails to link to indigestion.
All these conditions are treatable and the person gets much relief with cure of the condition.
But headaches due to mental conditions are more worrisome as they tend to be recurrent, disable the person and do not respond to treatment readily.
Migraine is one such condition. Pain is one sided, pulsatile and severe . It is associated with nausea, vomiting and photophobia. Attacks of migraine can be occasional or frequent depending on the mental make up of the person.
While migraine is common in women , men suffer from cluster headache due to mental stress. It is characterized by severe unilateral pain occurring in the night. The patient often a young man is awakened after sleeping for 1 to 2 hours due to severe headache.
There is nausea, vomiting and or watering from eyes with stuffed feeling in nose. The attacks like migraine may occur at times or may be very frequent. A typical episode may last from half an hour to two hours.
Tension headaches are also due to mental tension. They can occur at any age and in both genders. Pain is felt all over the head and the sensation is like a tight band.
Tension headache may occur due to a specific stressful situation at one point in a person’s life. But some weak minded individuals get stressed over small things and suffer due to recurrent tension headache.
Alcohol is known to provoke headaches due to mental tension in many cases.
Persons seeking attention due to variety of reasons also feign to be having headache but complaints lack the typical features of any type of headache.
Diagnosis of cause for headache is made by history of the headache, thorough clinical examination and relevant tests including C.T. ( computerized tomography) scan. Treatment includes treatment of the cause and good response is obtained in majority of cases.
Ergotamine is the drug of choice for treatment of migraine. Beta blockers like propranolol are useful in all kinds of stress induced headaches because they block the sympathetic hyperactivity in the body.
Antidepressants, tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs are used for prevention and treatment of tension and cluster headaches. But used for long they tend to cause side effects and habituation. Therefore one should try not to become dependent on them.
Those suffering from recurrent migraine or cluster or tension type headaches would greatly benefit from relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, e.t.c. Family members and friends can help them to be rid of the recurrent attacks of headache by counseling them lovingly.
Avoiding alcohol and a healthy life style will definitely help a person to have a headache free life.