Expert Commentary: Sayeed Iqbal, M.D, FACOG - 11-11-2009

Given the recent press reports of celebrities that have died following headaches, a short primer of the different types of headaches is due. The most common type is a tension headache that affects women more than men. It is caused by constriction of muscles on the scalp. Treatment is by over the counter medications. Migraines are described very throughly in the attached article. Again they are treatable but should be diagnosed by a doctor.


Other types of headaches are called cluster headaches. These tend to occur at about the same time every day. Each episode lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour. The pain is around or behind the eye and is severe. They are triggered by a lack of sleep, smoking, or certain prescription medications. Their treatments is again by caffeine, various pharmaceuticals, and certain lifestyle changes. These headaches are classified as primary types.

The other types of headaches classified are described as secondary because they are precipitated by disease, injuries, or infections. Head injuries are among the most dangerous types of headaches. These have been known to cause the deaths in the popular press. The individuals may not have sought help soon enough. A head injury can cause bleeding in the tissues of the brain. This increase in blood in the small spaces of the brain can cause permanent damage as well as death.

Blood vessels can also be inflamed and cause pain. The same blood vessels can be squeezed by high blood pressures or blocked by blood clots causing a stroke. Medications and body infections such as HIV and meningitis can present themselves as headaches.

A third category of headaches are defines as nerve pains. These are uncommon and affect a very small group of people. The nerves in the face or head are inflamed and cause the headaches.

The main caveat to any headache is to have a proper diagnosis by your doctor and to seek help as soon as possible with head injuries.


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