What Causes Headaches?

According to the National Headache Foundation, over 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches. Of these, 28 million people suffer from migraines. Migraines are a more severe type of headache in which the sufferer may suffer the following symptoms: extreme nausea or vomiting, strong sensitivity to light, dizziness, or a pounding headache lasting longer than 72 hours.

What Causes Headaches?

Headaches are caused by signals interacting between the brain, blood vessels and surrounding nerves. Although not much is known as to what exactly causes signals to be sent to the brain, it is these signals which result in the pain we feel during a headache.

In some cases, migraines can be hereditary. If one of your parents is prone to getting migraines, you have a better than 50% chance that you, too, will develop migraines at some point in your life. Headaches can also be cause by everyday stresses dealing with school, work and family. They can also be caused by someone who has suffered severe head trauma. Strong odors, chemicals and smoke from tobacco products can cause headaches as well.

Various Types of Headaches

There are several different headache types from which people commonly suffer. These include the following:

– Tension headaches (aka: daily or non-progressive headaches) – This is the most common headache among adults and adolescents. Tension headaches usually do not last long, coming and going intermittently. Also, the degree of pain associated with this type of headache is usually tolerable with or without any medication

– Migraines-There is still not much information available as to what exactly causes migraine headaches. Migraine pain can range from moderate to extremely severe. The pain is often described as "throbbing" or "pounding" and can last anywhere from four hours to three days, occurring up to several times a month. Pediatric migraines are usually associated with symptoms such as vomiting on a fairly regular basis (ex: once a month).

– Transformed Migraines- This is a combination of a tension headache and a migraine that both adults and children can experience.

– Cluster headaches- These headaches are not as common, however, they are considered the most severe. The pain associated with this headache is described as having a burning, sharp pain that is either throbbing or constant. The pain is so severe that most sufferers can not even bear to sit still. These headaches can last anywhere from two weeks to three months.

– Sinus headaches- These types of headaches are associated with deep, constant pain that is most often felt in the cheekbones and usually gets worse when the sufferer moves. Other symptoms may include sinus symptoms such as feeling like your ears are stuffed, nasal discharge, fever and facial swelling.

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