Headache (medically known as cephalalgia) is a condition of mild to severe pain in the head; sometimes upper back or neck pain may also be interpreted as a headache. Headache is the second-most common form of local pain.
Headaches have a wide variety of causes, ranging from eyestrain to inflammation of the sinus cavities to life-threatening conditions such as encephalitis, brain cancer, meningitis, and cerebral aneurysms. When the headache occurs in conjunction with a head injury the cause is usually quite evident; however, many causes of headaches are more elusive.
The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Some people experience headaches when they are hungry or dehydrated (severe dehydration is the cause of the headache during a hangover, since alcohol is a diuretic).
It is common to take over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve headaches. However, when taken too frequently, painkiller medications may actually cause headaches.
There are four types of headache: vascular, myogenic (muscle tension), traction, and inflammatory.
Specific types of headaches include:
Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious disorders. This is particularly true for headaches caused by inflammation, including those related to meningitis as well as those resulting from diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears and teeth.
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