Headaches also called Cephalalgias, are pains situated in areas of the neck or head. In short, they are caused when the cerebral articles dilate, by drug reactions as well as muscle contractions. Headaches can present themselves as symptoms of several conditions (most of which are temporary and innocuous) hence are often not isolated. Since the brain lacks nociceptors it cannot sense pain, for that reason headaches do not originate in the brain but in several structures around the neck and head that are pain-sensitive.
These structures can be found both within and outside of the cranium. The structures inside the cranium are the cranial nerves, blood vessels and meninges while situated outside of the cranium are arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, sinuses and mucous membranes, muscles, ears, nerves and the periosteum of the skull.
Headaches can be intermittent, transient, frequent, ill-frequent, mild, moderate and severe with some even having debilitating effects. Most, like tension headaches, can be treated with simple over the counter (OTC) drugs however, recurring pains should immediately be brought to the attention of a certified medical doctor for analysis and proper diagnoses in order to eliminate the problem or keep it under control.
There are many substances made to deal with headaches. Some types are only available on prescription while others can easily be accessed by anyone. Understanding and following the recommended dosages is important to avoid prolonging, worsening or aggravating the condition. Adhering to guidelines not only improves effectiveness, it also prevents overdoses.
Treating headaches is in no way limited to traditional medicines. Alternative means are constantly surfacing while some can be avoided or eliminated by removing the stimuli or irritant.
Common causes of headaches include:
Simple Infections- upper respiratory infections are the main culprits however, most infections will result in headaches. This is as a result of the invasion of viral and bacterial agents invading the body producing toxins that get distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream as they grow or multiply. Aches and pains then present themselves, mainly in large muscles areas and the joints.
Elevated temperature-these headaches tend to be localized pains, occurring in certain parts of the head. These can often by treated with home remedies or OTC drugs. Consult your physician if 12 to 24 hours of home remedies or OTC maximum dosage does not eliminate the issue.
Severe Infections-meningeal irritation can result in severe headaches. This means the tissue that covers the brain (the meninges) has been exposed to an irritant. Conditions such as encephalitis and meningitis are two such examples. Treatment for these are prescribed and done under doctor’s supervision from the onset since mild drugs are insufficient and these can be life-threatening illnesses.
Brain Tumors-these have several symptoms however, headaches tend to present themselves first. The term ‘tumor’ refers to the growth of abnormal cells and can be benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous. Brain tumors are therefore the growth of abnormal cells within the brain.
There are also stress factors, poor dieting, fatigue, exposure to excess noise, bright lights and prolonged use of the eyes.