Is my headache from being sick or something else?

We all are quite familiar with the term headache. Almost everyone on this planet has had headaches in some part of their life. Headaches are defined as pain in any region within the head. Its causes and duration, along with intensity, can vary from person to person according to the type of headache. Nearly everyone feels some sort of headache now and then.

Various types of headaches:

Headaches are usually felt as a distracting throbbing pain, which is uncomfortable and can occur in the whole head region or some specific part of it. Some of these headache types are roughly mentioned below:

  • Stress/tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Cluster headaches
  • Sinus/Allergy headaches
  • Post-traumatic headaches
  • Hypertension headaches
  • Rebound headaches
  • Caffeine headaches
  • Exertion headaches

When to seek medical help?

While some headaches tend to be harmless or result from fatigue or anxiety, other types of headaches might indicate some sort of underlying medical problems. One should seek immediate medical attention in case they face the following symptoms combined with headaches:

  • They feel stiffness in the neck
  • Rashes occur on the skin
  • You feel nausea or vomiting
  • You feel a high fever
  • Visual loss or paralysis in any part of the body
  • One of the worst headaches you ever felt
  • Slurry speech
  • Frequent headaches without any underlying medical conditions

Headaches are classified into three broad categories based upon their source of pain:

  1. Primary Headaches
  2. Secondary Headaches
  3. Facial pains and other headaches

Primary headaches:

These include headaches like tension, headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches.

Tension Headaches: These are among the most common types of headaches that occur both in men and women. As the name implies, the reason is some sort of stress, tension, anxiety, some sort of fear or worrying, etc.

Migraine Headaches: These are the second most common type of primary headaches, which can affect both adults as well as children. However, more women are affected by it after reaching puberty than men.

Cluster Headaches: It is a rare type of headache which occurs in certain parts of the head.

Primary headaches are more common among people and can affect the daily life of a person. Some headaches last for a few hours, while others might last for longer periods. Although most primary headaches are not life-threatening, if these headaches keep coming back, then it might be possible that there is some issue inside the body, e.g., some primary headache symptoms are linked to strokes.

Secondary headaches:

These headaches occur due to underlying conditions such as structural or infectious diseases/problems within the neck or head. This category of headaches is very broad as it can range from dental pains from infected teeth or even pain from a sinus infection to severe and critical conditions like bleeding inside the brain or meningitis etc.

Headaches relating to excessive medication use, drug abuse, and dehydration are also included in this category. While some types of headaches are normal and understandable, we need to understand and distinguish the symptoms between the various types of headaches and seek medical help if the symptoms match any of the severe types of headaches.