A headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Most headaches are due to tension, migraine, or a combination of the two.
What happens when a headache occurs
. Parts of the meninges, arteries and some nerves in the head carry special nerve cells which transmit pain messages when they are stretched, compressed, irritated by chemicals or deprived of oxygen.
. Muscles also contain pain receptors which are stimulated by chemicals secreted during over-exercise or prolonged tension. The pain which these convey is what we commonly call a headache.
. Irritation of nerve fibres can cause interference in vision and a burning pain known as neuralgia which is a characteristic of cluster headaches and may be - associated with sinus infection.
Two common causes of headache pain can explain and differentiate two common types of headaches, tension-type and migraine headaches.
- Tension may strain muscles of the face, neck, and scalp, leading to the tight, pressing pain sensation of tension-type headaches.
- Swelling and stretching of the blood vessels in the head cause vascular headache pain: A migraine headache is the principal form of vascular headaches.
Migraines and Headaches: Pain Relief for Headaches
Usually, the first headache medications recommended by doctors are pain relievers. Many of these medications are available over-the-counter, without a doctor's prescription. Other headache medications require a prescription. When taking these headache medications, avoid excessive caffeine-containing products and other over the counter headache medications. Any medication containing barbiturates (butalbital) or narcotics (codeine) should be used sparingly.