Headache - Causes & Treatment

Headaches are pain of various kinds, intensity and localization in the area of ​​the head as a result of circulatory disorders and diseases in the head or diseases of the entire organism. Depending on the type of headache, these can be attributed to different causes.

Headache: causes and triggers

The bony human skull harbors, on the one hand, the brain as the supreme authority of all functions of the organism and other structures that serve the blood supply and the protection of the brain. The brain itself consists of millions of interconnected nerve cells and is surrounded by connective tissue protective covers, the so-called meninges. The blood supply to the brain via the carotid arteries, which feed a fanning vascular system outside and inside the bony skull with numerous cross-connections. The nerve cells of the brain are not sensitive to pain per se. The well-known symptom of headache comes to consciousness through irritation of certain pain receptors located in the meninges and along the brain-supplying vascular pathways.

Headaches are among the most commonly complained complaints ever. They can lead to a strong impairment of the subjective well-being. The spectrum of causes of headache ranges from circulatory disorders of the head or tension in mental overstraining on diseases of the eyes and ears to the brain tumor, with vascular causes leading with about 80 percent at the top. And headache medications can in turn be the cause of headache if taken regularly over a long period of time.

Overview of Headache Causes

Below is an overview of the common causes of headaches.

Primary headache:

  • Vascular headache including migraine
  • Tension headaches
  • Headache as an expression of mental conflict situations (conversion headache)
  • Hirnnervenneuralgien

Symptomatic headache:

  • brain tumor
  • Inflammatory diseases of the brain
  • Vascular malformations of the brain
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • epilepsy
  • Diseases of the bony skull
  • Diseases of the brain supplying vessels
  • Eye, sinus, ear, tooth and jaw diseases
  • Diseases of the cervical spine

Headaches in general conditions:

  • high blood pressure
  • allergies
  • General infections with fever
  • Anemia
  • poisoning
  • Prescription drug abuse

Treatment of headache

For the treatment of the primary forms of headache, such as vascular headache, tension-type headache or conversion headache, the following are essentially available:

Drug Therapy: There are numerous known substances with different degrees of analgesic action, with headache mainly substances from the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics such as acetylsalicylic acid, indomethacin or paracetamol are used. The effectiveness of the substances in individual cases must be tested individually. Because of the not insignificant side effects is to warn against a chronic use of painkillers.

Relaxation training (autogenic training, yoga, etc.): In the emergence of almost all forms of primary headache psychological factors such as stress, chronic work-life or emotional stress overload play an essential role. Accordingly, any form of relaxation training that contributes to mental stabilization and self-control is recommended as a supplement to analgesic medication in seizure.

Homeopathy and Acupuncture: If the above treatment options for headaches prove to be ineffective, in non-medical alternative methods such as homeopathy and acupuncture amazing results can be achieved in individual cases. In this regard, a visit to the specialist is recommended.

Psychotherapy: If the causes of the headache are due to unconscious mental conflicts, psychotherapy can be considered as the method of choice. Basically, successful psychotherapy always requires the willingness of the patient to face their own conscious or unconscious problems and conflicts.

Treatment of cluster headache

To treat the cluster headache, stronger ergotamine-containing migraine preparations have proven to be effective. In case of severe pain without reaction to the above-mentioned preparations, local anesthetics sometimes have to be injected, which have to be injected into the involved nerve nodes of the trigeminal nerve. Headache in neuralgia in turn require a special drug treatment, which may be treated with antidepressants or neuroleptics.

If all medications fail, an attempt can be made to eliminate the painful nerve fibers by surgery and thereby heal the pain syndrome. For symptomatic headaches in the wake of diseases inside or outside the skull, the therapy is primarily directed against the basic problem, but can of course also be combined with analgesic preparations. The same applies to headaches that occur in the context of general conditions.

Headache: Preventive measures

If certain trigger situations or factors for the headache are known, a suitable avoidance strategy is of course recommended. If the cause of the headache is due to mental overload, stress or emotional tension, at least one should try to find a more stable and relaxing rhythm of life through a physical and mental balance program.

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