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Types of Headaches 

Underlying Causes

A headache is one of the most common types of pain people have, and most people will deal with plenty of them during their lifetime. The pain can start in the upper neck or in the head. One of the common misperceptions about headaches is that the actual pain is in brain. While it might feel that way at times, the brain does not have any nerves containing pain fibers. Instead, the actual pain felt during a headache comes from the structure and tissues around the brain.

The type of pain a headache inflicts can vary. It can create an intense sensation of pain or a mild one. The headache can be throbbing, sharp, or dull. Headaches can stem from a traumatic event or injury to the upper body or head. Concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and mTBI can all cause headaches as a symptom and must be evaluated in a timely manner by a neurological expert.

Neurology professionals classify headaches into the following three main categories:

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

The Headache Classification System 

Primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. The tension headache is the most common type of headache. The World Health Organization says that nearly 5% of people suffer from daily tension headaches. While cluster headaches are relatively rare, migraines are the second most common primary headache. They tend to affect men who are in their late 20s more than they do others. However, they can affect women and children too.

Secondary headaches come from conditions affecting the neck or the head. These headaches could come from dental pain, such as infected teeth. They may also be the result of infected sinuses, or even bleeding of the brain, which can be deadly. Headaches associated with substance abuse fit into this category as well. The final category includes everything else. Cranial neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that affects one of the nerves in the head and neck. It can cause facial pain that is extremely intense.

Available Headache Treatments

It is important to realize that since so many different types of headaches exist, the treatments for all of them can vary quite a bit. For example, someone who suffers from a secondary headache due to infected teeth needs to have dental help, removal of the tooth, and antibiotics to deal with the issue. However, those who are suffering from some of the "typical" types of headaches may be able to utilize some common headache treatments to deal with the pain.

Of course, the first type of treatment that most people consider is over-the-counter medication. Most of the time, a common pain reliever is all you really need. It will mask the pain until it goes away naturally, and you can get on with life. However, pain medication may not always work. If you are suffering from a persistent headache that has lasted more than a few days and isn't responding to drugstore remedies, it's time to talk to a neurological expert.

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