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
Some types of headache are signals of more serious
· 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
· 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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