Most of us recognize that unrelenting pain that jolts the inside our skull like lightning, pounds behind the eyes, and reverberates along our temples. Amazing 90 % of people report experiencing the occasional headache, whether it comes in the form of a sharp pain or dull pulsing sensation.
Etiology of headache
Headaches can result from a wide range of causes both benign and more serious ones. G.Peritz (3ied. Klin,ik, August 5th, 1927, p. 1169) classifies the headache as:
- Organic disturbances, caused by cerebral tumors, meningitis, hydrocephalus and syphilis
- Functional disturbances, caused by overwork, fatigue, anemia, gout, endocrine irregularities, obesity, intoxications, and reflected pains.
In the first group the pain is not localized, but distributed over the head, sometimes beginning suddenly-with intense severity. It depends on the sudden or gradual (in case of tumors) increase of the intracranial pressure. Sooner or later the signs of intracranial disease become manifest and are diagnosed. This form of headache is often relieved by the lumbar puncture performed for aid in diagnosis.
The headache of syphilitic origin is of 2 kinds: the one markedly localized in the bones and periosteum, and often the result of irritation of the nerves of the meninges; the other form is indistinguishable from functional headache, and probably also arises from a slight degree of meningitis.
Functional headaches are myalgic and not of cerebral or meningeal origin. Myalgia is a partial muscular contraction,and the degree of pain is inversely proportionate to the resistance of the nervous system. The muscular contraction causes a production of lactic acid, which, if the oxygen supply is insufficient to convert it into glycogen and carbonic
acid, is not removed from the muscle and myalgia results.
Fatigue after walking is due to the excess of lactic acid produced in the muscles. The headache of fatigue and overwork is the result of excessive production of lactic acid in people with poor muscular development.
In people with anemia the diminished hemoglobin content of the blood causes deficiency of the supply of oxygen to the muscles, and an accumulation of lactic acid. Similarly, in gouty persons the myalgia is caused by uric acid, the normal removal of which is interfered with ,inciting contraction of the muscular tissues and myalgia.
Modern medicine recognizes 200 different types of headaches depending on their origin
Headaches hurt, but they do not cause pain to the brain itself. Brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain as it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain.
Nine areas of the head and neck have these pain-sensitive structures, which are the cranium (the periosteum of the skull), muscles, nerves, blood vessels (that is arteries and veins), subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes.
There are a number of different classification systems for headaches. The well-recognized is that of the International Headache Society. The nerves tell the brain that it is experiencing swelling, tightening, and other agitating pressure, and the brain communicates these through pain.
What can trigger a headache?
There are certain kinds of triggers that could cause an onslaught of pain. Some people suffer acute headaches during sexual activity, usually within seconds of orgasm, while others experience a gradual ache as sexual excitement builds within the body.
Here is a list of the most common reasons why people experience splitting headaches:
1. Stress almost always triggers tension headaches — the most common type of a headache adults suffer from.
2. Caffeine and alcohol addiction are both associated with different kinds of headaches, too. While alcohol expands the blood vessels and increases pressure around the skull, caffeine, or lack of it rather, causes headaches characteristic of withdrawal symptoms.
3. Bad news for people with allergies: they are 14 times more likely to experience migraines — a more chronic and painful type of headache. The histamines that buildup in the body as a reaction to the allergen causes blood vessels to shrink and create pressure. Weather changes affecting temperature, odor, light and elevation also cause headaches.
4. Certain foods have the same effect, such as chocolate, potato chips, dairy products, and the artificial sweetener aspartame.
5. Lastly, you shouldn’t slouch, sit too long in the same position or clench your jaw. Not only is it bad for your muscles, bones, and circulatory system, but it can also lead to long-term headache pain!
The headache is a non-specific symptom, which means that it has many possible causes, including fatigue and sleep deprivation, stress, the effects of medications and recreational drugs, viral infections and common colds, head injury, rapid ingestion of a very cold food or beverage, dental or sinus issues, and many more.
Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying cause, but commonly involves pain killers. Some form of headache is one of the most commonly experienced of all physical discomforts.