Learn About Ailments | Headaches


Headaches are mild to severe pain in the head or back of the neck. Headaches are classed as primary or secondary. The most common types of primary headache are tension, migraine and cluster. Secondary headaches are caused by associated diseases that can be minor, serious or life-threatening. The majority of headaches do not indicate any serious underlying cause and are usually relieved by medication or lifestyle changes.

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Watch the headaches video Causes of headaches
Symptoms of headaches Diagnosis of headaches
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Did you know?
  • 1 in 10 adults suffer with migraines
  • The majority of headaches are due to dehydration
  • 8 million people a year take sick days because of headaches
  • Cluster headaches can be so severe they are referred to as 'suicide headaches'
  • Excessive use of paracetamol and ibuprofen can cause 'rebound headaches'

The actual causes of headaches are unclear and different types of headache have many contributory factors that cause them. Tension headaches can be triggered by stress or psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. Poor posture and deteriorating eyesight cause the scalp and neck muscles to tense leading to tension headaches. Food, strong odours, bright sunlight and the menstrual cycle can all trigger a tension headache.

Cluster and migraine headaches are termed 'vascular headaches' meaning blood vessels dilate and swell in the tissue surrounding the head causing pain. Cluster headaches are believed to be caused by over activity in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This activity can be triggered by drinking alcohol or smelling solvents, petrol and perfumes. Extreme temperatures can also bring on cluster headaches. Migraine headaches are caused by the enlargement of the temporal artery and release of chemicals under the skin of the temple. The chemicals cause pain, inflammation and further enlargement of the temporal artery that magnifies the pain.

Diseases that cause secondary headaches include brain tumours, haematomas (bleeding from ruptured veins or arteries), bacterial meningitis, strokes, high blood pressure, sinus infections, carbon monoxide poisoning, glaucoma and hypothyroidism.

While all headaches have the symptom of pain around the head or neck, certain types of headache cause pain in specific areas of the head and also have accompanying symptoms. Tension headaches typically last two to three hours and symptoms include a constant ache affecting the sides of the head, tightening of the neck muscles and pressure behind the eyes. Cluster headaches are short-lived, strike rapidly on one side of the head and centre around one eye. Pain develops quickly and without prior warning but rarely lasts beyond a couple of hours. The eye can also become inflamed and watery accompanied by blocked sinuses on the side affected.

Migraine headaches are characterised by a throbbing pain on one side of the head. The pain can vary from dull to severe often starting first thing in the morning. Migraines can also cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Symptoms can last a few hours or a couple of days in some cases.

In cases of occasional headaches there is usually no need to visit a GP. However, a GP visit is necessary if the headaches are frequent or severe. A GP should be consulted if there are accompanying symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever and stiff neck muscles. If the headache is after an injury or accident or if it is causing slurred speech, confusion or numbness then a GP should be consulted.

In some cases, it is a good idea to keep a diary and log when and where the headaches occur. This will help identify any triggers to the headache and enable the GP to make a better diagnosis.

  • Head Pain
  • Ache
  • Throbbing
  • Splitting Headache
  • Pounding Headache
  • Cluster Headache
  • Bilateral Headache
  • Stress Headache
  • Tension Headache
  • Sinus Headche
  • Migraine Headache
  • Migraine Attack
  • Asprin
  • Painkillers
  • Vasodilatation
  • Neurological Dysfunction
  • Subdural Haematomas
  • Epidural Haematomas
  • Subarachnoid Haemorrhage
  • Migraine
  • Cephalgia

Headake, Hedake, Headacje, Eadache, Headacke Hedache

Therapies to consider
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Holistic Massage Hypnotherapy Indian Head Massage
Kinesiology Massage Naturopathy
NLP Nutrition Osteopathy
Personal Training Physiotherapy Pilates
Reiki Remedial Massage Shiatsu
Sports Massage Vertical Reflex Therapy Yoga


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