What cuses headaches?

You have probably come across the word ‘Headaches‘ when the doctor mention or your friends mention. What do you think is it? Does it feels pain in the region of your head or neck? If you think about it, it’s strange it even exists. A headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The 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 (pain fibers). It really senses you don’t want to do anything even if you want much. It conquerors your head and much like conquerors your body and your environment too. So the thing is “what causes this conqueror to conquer our head and body?” Let’s proceed.




Today, the scientists have classified headaches into two camps. Primary headaches and Secondary headaches.

What Causes Primary Headache?

Primary headaches are not symptomatic of an underlying disease, injury, or condition;  they are the condition. A primary headache is caused by overactivity of or problems with pain-sensitive structures in your head.

Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck (or some combination of these factors) can play a role in primary headaches. Some common primary headaches are:

  1. A cluster headache
  2. A migraine
  3. A migraine with aura
  4. A tension headache
The origins of primary headaches remain unknown. Scientists are still investigating potential triggers for the three types of primary headaches: recurring, long-lasting migraines; intensely painful, rapid-fire cluster headaches; and, most common of all, the tension headache.
As the name suggests, tension headaches are known for creating the sensation of a tight band squeezed around the head. These headaches increase the tenderness of the pericranial muscles which then painfully pulse with blood and oxygen. Patients report stress, dehydration, and hormone changes as triggers, but these don’t fit the symptoms quite right. For example, in dehydration headaches, the frontal lobe actually shrinks away from the skull, creating forehead swelling that doesn’t match the location of the pain in tension headaches.
Scientists have theories for what the actual cause is, ranging from spasming blood vessels to overly sensitive nociceptors, but no one knows for sure.
Migraines are recurring headaches, which create a vise-like sensation on the skull that can last from four hours to three days. In 20% of cases, these attacks are intense enough to overload the brain with electrical energy, which hyper-excites sensory nerve endings. This produces hallucinations called auras, which can include seeing flashing lights and geometric patterns and experiencing tingling sensations.
Cluster headaches, another primary headache type, cause burning, stabbing bursts of pain behind one eye, leading to a red eye, constricted pupil, and drooping eyelid. Tension headaches and most secondary cases can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce cranial swelling. Migraines and cluster headaches are more complicated, and we haven’t yet discovered reliable treatments that work for everyone.

 What Causes Secondary Headache?

A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. It is caused by other health problems, with triggers ranging from dehydration and caffeine withdrawal to head and neck injury, and heart disease. Any number of conditions — varying greatly in severity — may cause secondary headaches.  Doctors have classified over 150 diagnosable types, all with different potential causes, symptoms, and treatments. Possible causes of secondary headaches include:
  1. Acute sinusitis (sinus infection)
  2. A brain aneurysm (a bulge in an artery in your brain)
  3. Brain AVM (arteriovenous malformation) — an abnormal formation of brain blood vessels
  4. Brain tumor
  5. Carbon monoxide poisoning
  6. Chiari malformation (the structural problem at the base of your skull)
  7. Concussion
  8. Dehydration
  9. Ear infection (middle ear)
  10. Encephalitis (brain inflammation)

But let’s take just one common case —a sinus infection—as an example. The sinuses are a system of cavities that spread behind our foreheads, noses, and upper cheeks. When our sinuses are infected, our immune response heats up the area, roasting the bacteria and inflaming the cavities well past their usual size. The engorged sinuses put pressure on the cranial arteries and veins, as well as muscles in the neck and head. Their pain receptors, called nociceptors, trigger in response, cueing the brain to release a flood of neuropeptides that inflame the cranial blood vessels, swelling and heating up the head. This discomfort, paired with hyper-sensitive head muscles, creates the sore, throbbing pain of a headache.

In ancient Greece, headaches were considered as powerful afflictions. Victims prayed for relief from Asclepius, the god of medicine. And if the pain continued, a medical practitioner would perform the best-known remedy— drilling a small hole in the skull to drain supposedly infected blood. This dire technique called trepanation often replaced a headache with a more permanent condition.


In headache and in worry vaguely life leaks away, And time will have his fancy to-morrow or to-day. ———W.H. AUDEN.

                                            LEARN SOMETHING MORE.

For Further Reading on MAYO CLINIC.




Author: Wan


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