about everyone in the world has had at least one headache.
Some people rarely get them, while others have them almost
every day. Often we pay little attention to them and the headache
is soon gone, but sometimes headaches become so painful or
so frequent that we start to worry that it might be something
good news about headaches is that the majority of them are
completely harmless. However, every once in a while a headache
is a warning of some serious, so how can you tell?
think that the longer youve been suffering from headaches,
the more likely they are to be dangerous. In fact, the opposite
is true -- the longer you've been suffering from headaches,
the less likely it is that they indicate some serious condition.
As a rule, any sort of headache that you had many times over
a period of several years, without developing any other symptoms,
is almost certain to be harmless. Doctors call these chronic
headaches. The most common types of chronic headache are tension-type
headaches and migraines. If you do suffer from headaches,
see your health care provider to be sure they are not anything
type headaches usually feel like a tight band around the head.
There are many muscles located in your scalp and in the back
of your neck and head. The name tension suggests that these
headaches are brought on by emotional tension and stress,
or that they are caused by some sort of tension in the muscles
of the neck and head. In fact, its not clear how significant
a role either type of tension or stress plays in these headaches.
Its true that many people do get this sort of headache
toward the end of a stressful day, or after working or sitting
in an awkward position. You might want to try some self-massage to help relax these muscle spasms.
headaches are a different kind of headache. The pain of migraine
is usually pounding rather that tight feeling. Migraine pain
is usually worse on one side of the head, and often seems
to be centered around or behind one eye. Many people feel
nauseated during a migraine, and then become light and sound
sensitive also. That person wants to lie down in a dark, quiet
room until the headache passes. Some people see zigzags of
light and color that glow or 'shimmer' several minutes before
their headache starts, something referred to as an 'aura'.
We still don't understand why some people are cursed with
migraines or exactly what goes on inside the head to cause
the headache. Some people will have one or two migraine headaches
in a lifetime, while others have them almost daily. Migraine
headaches can be quite painful and frequent migraines can
completely disrupt a persons daily life. (Links for migraine
sufferers at the bottom of this page).
to Worry, or See Your Health Care Provider? Since
chronic headaches are almost never anything to worry about,
when should you worry? As a general rule, health care providers
are most concerned about new headaches. If you suffer from
occasional headaches, a new headache means a headache that
feels different from any you've had before. The majority of
new headaches turn out to be harmless. Many turn out to be
migraine or tension-type headaches -- after all, everyone
with chronic migraines must have had a first, new headache
at the beginning. But if you are having new headaches, you
should have them evaluated by a health care provider.
and fever can be symptoms of meningitis. The word meningitis
itself just means inflammation or infection of the tissue
(called the meninges) and fluid that surround and protect
the brain and spinal cord. Not all forms of meningitis are
dangerous -- many common viruses, for example, can cause viral
meningitis, which is unpleasant, but usually harmless. Bacterial
meningitis, on the other hand, is a different matter; these
infections can be fatal if the are not treated quickly with
antibiotics. This is the kind of meningitis you hear about
in the news, often striking several children in the same school.
this mean that you should rush to the Emergency Room every
time you have a fever and a headache? No. Many unpleasant
but harmless infections like the common
cold and the flu can cause fever
and headache, and these infections are thousands of times
more common than bacterial meningitis.
how do you know when to be concerned? Again, you should use
your own experience as a guide. If your symptoms feel like
those of colds or flu youve had before, then you should
not be alarmed. However, if your illness feels unfamiliar
-- the headache is worse, or you feel much sicker than ever
before -- you should see a health care provider right away!
Anyone with a headache and fever who is drowsy or confused
needs medical attention immediately! Get that person to an
emergency room and call 911 in the United States if they lose consciousness.
As a rule, though, if you develop other symptoms, either during
a headache, or between headaches, you must have your headaches
evaluated by a physician. These
Double vision, or brief blackouts of vision
numbness, clumsiness, or tingling in one arm, one leg, or
one side of the face
with walking or balance
spinning sensation (vertigo)
headaches with migraine-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting,
lights or colors in vision.
Common Fears About Headaches
There are a number of conditions many headache sufferers fear. Brain tumors, is probably the number one fear. Everyone who
suffers from headaches (even if they are a doctor) worries
at some point that they might have a brain tumor. Weve
all seen the movies in which someones headaches turn
out to be caused by an incurable tumor. It does make for great
drama, but, the truth is that headaches are not the first
sign of a brain tumor. Other symptoms first signal this problem.
Difficulty writing or speaking, weakness or clumsiness in
a limb, a seizure, -- these are the sort of symptoms that
signal trouble -- (though these symptoms can also be caused
by many conditions other than tumors). In fact, most brain
tumors don't cause any headache at all.
If headaches are disrupting your life, don't be afraid and
see your health care provider. Many medical centers have departments
that specialize in the treatment of headaches. There are always
new headache medications becoming available too.