Differentiation of headaches
Headache or pain in the head is often difficult to describe by the patient. It is one of the most common complaints in humans and everybody has at one point in their life headache in one or the other form.
Headache can occur in every part of the skull and face and there is a huge variety of possible causes that are not always easy to differentiate.
Primary and secondary
The International Headache Society (IHS) classifies headaches as primary when they are not caused by another condition, or secondary when there is a further underlying cause.
Primary headaches are what is called stand-alone-illnesses, caused by problems of structures in the head that are pain-sensitive.
Secondary headaches are more like symptoms that happen when another condition stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves in the head.
Different conditions can cause secondary headache:
• Alcohol-induced hangover.
• Brain tumor or aneurism.
• Blood clots.
• Bleeding in or around the brain.
• ‘Brain freeze’, or ice-cream headaches.
• Carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Concussion (trauma).
• Teeth-grinding at night.
• Influenza or flu.
• Overuse of pain medication, known as rebound headaches.
• Panic attacks.
• Sleep apnea.
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