When a person has a headache, several areas of the head can hurt, including a network of nerves that extends over the scalp and certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat. The muscles of the head and the blood vessels found along the surface and at the base of the brain are also sensitive to pain because they contain delicate nerve fibers. The bones of the skull and tissues of the brain itself never hurt because they lack pain-sensitive nerve fibers. The ends of these pain-sensitive nerves, called nociceptors, can be stimulated by stress, muscular tension, dilated blood vessels, and others triggers of headache.

Vascular headaches like migraines are thought to involve abnormal function of the brain's blood vessels or vascular system.

Some types of headache are signals of more serious disorders:
· sudden, severe headache
· headache associated with convulsions
· headache accompanied by confusion or loss of consciousness
· headache following a blow on the head
· headache associated with pain in the eye or ear
· persistent headache in a person who was previously headache free
· recurring headache in children
· headache associated with fever
· headache that interferes with normal life

Physicians will obtain a full medical history and may order a blood test to screen for thyroid disease, anemia, or infections or x-rays to rule out a brain tumor or blood clots. CTs, MRIs, and EEGs may be recommended. An eye exam is usually performed to check for weakness in the eye muscle or unequal pupil size. Some scientists believe that fatigue, glaring or flickering lights, and certain foods may trigger migraine headaches.

Headaches can also be caused by insomnia, tension in the neck, or working too long in front of the computer. Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odors, menstrual periods, and changes in weather, especially exposure to extreme cold temperatures are among many factors that may also trigger headache.

Health conditions like ear problems and eye problems, extreme pain too can trigger headaches and emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.

Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.

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