Cephalgia is a medical term for headache. This medical issue can be acute or chronic and actually represents the most frequent reason why people seek medical attention. There are many types of headache and people can specifically describe the sensation they feel while experiencing headache. For instance, headache can be described as dull, pulsating, aching, throbbing, shooting, sharp or stabbing. The pain usually occurs suddenly and lingers differently, from hours to days. It is essential to memorize that headaches are not a condition per se. Instead they are a manifestation of many different medical conditions.
Headaches and Underlying Causes
People who turn to their doctors because the headache they have to deal with is quite severe, recurrent or lingers for some time undergo thorough investigation. Namely, doctors take complete history of the patient and perform thorough physical and neurological examination. Depending on the additional symptoms and health issues one may need to undergo certain lab tests or even X-ray, CT scan or MRI. Since there are many potential underlying causes of headache, it is essential to identify the cause first and then choose the most convenient treatment modality.
The most challenging thing is to identify the underlying cause of chronic headaches. If one has a problem with headaches of recent origin he/she undergoes intensive investigation. Fortunately, infrequent headaches are almost always connected with acute causes like alcohol consumption, fever, eyestrain or sleep deprivation. When trying to figure out the cause of headache it is also important to take into consideration the precise location of the pain. Such information may be of great help in making a differential diagnosis.
Some of the frequent causes of headaches are intracranial tumors and aneurysms, hypertension, sinusitis, eyestrain and other eye problems, teeth problems, temporomandibular joint disorder, problems with the ear (particularly the inner ear), muscle tension, stress, nerve traction/ pressure in the neck, constriction of blood vessels in the head etc. Headaches also occur after trauma to the head and may be associated with environmental factors. Some people suffer from this health issue because of inherited tendency for headaches.
Certain Types of Chronic Headaches
Migraines and cluster headaches are frequently reported recurrent types of headaches.
Migraines are definitely one of the most debilitating types of headaches. They are typically associated with visual and gastrointestinal disturbances. Even though the actual cause of migraines remains a mystery, scientists believe that the pain originates from either constriction or dilatation of blood vessels in the head. The pain is located to one side of the head and may linger for several days.
Cluster headaches are also a repeated form of headache that occurs abruptly and is generally quite severe in nature. Namely, the pain is located to one side, and remains around the eye, temple or the neck. The affected area shows signs of blood vessel dilation. For instance, one may experience puffiness beneath the eye, eye tearing or running nose.
Finally, one more type of headaches that can last for a long period of time (for days, weeks or even months) is headache associated with muscle tension or spinal problems affecting the neck. One may develop pinched nerve, a condition that occurs due to misalignment of spinal vertebrae. Additionally, there may be issues with neck muscles or circulatory problems. It is confirmed that this type of headaches is actually closely related to one's occupation. Professionals susceptible to this type of headache are truck/taxi drivers, machine/telephone/computer operators, dentists, hygienists, construction workers, assembly line workers etc.