Headache is one of the common health-related conditions in the world, with around 15 per cent of us taking pain killers for a headache at any given time. We are all likely to experience headaches at some time in our lives. However, people within the age bracket of 25-45 years are more likely to suffer from a headache.
Headache can be divided into two primary headache and secondary headache. Primary headache may include stress headache while secondary headache can be as a result of an underlying disorder e.g. tumor, infection, or injury.
Common causes of headaches
Tension and stress
Tension and stress ate the most common triggers of headache. Tension headache is characterized by what feels like a tight band of pressure around the head and is often associated with muscle tightness in jaw, neck, or head. Both emotional and physical stress can lead can contribute to this type of headache. It can be treated by making lifestyle adjustments, for example, exercise, and proper diet, attention to posture and stress management.
Headache and jaw or dental problems
Muscle tension can result when if the teeth of a person’s upper and lower jaw fail to meet smoothly leading to a headache. This can be corrected by using occlusal splints which allow the jaw to close without dental interference or by replacing missing teeth. Other underlying conditions such as tooth decay, post-extraction infection, and dental abscesses can also cause headache.
Headache caused by infection
Many infections of the throat, nose, and ear can cause headache. Treatment may include treatments such as decongestants, antibiotics or antihistamine, depending on the disorder. However, persistent problems, such as chronic tonsillitis, may need surgery as a final resort.
Headache caused by diet and food
The food we eat can play a significant role in headache. Diet can trigger headache in the following ways;
- fluctuations in blood-sugar levels
- caffeine withdrawal
- some food additives
- chemicals that occur naturally in food e.g. amines
Eye problems and headache
Long-sightedness and short-sightedness and other vision problems tend to make the patient strain their eyes muscles in order to have a better focus. This can cause a headache. Some eyes diseases such as glaucoma can cause headache by directing pain into the structure of the head.
Medications and headache
Various medications are designed to perform various tasks in our bodies i.e. act on a diseased organ. However, they can also affect negatively other body parts. Undesirable reactions and side effects are possible with all medication including, herbal preparations, over-the-counter medications, and vitamin pills. Some of the side effect may be a headache.
Ear, nose and throat disorders and headache
Many disorders of the nose, ear and throat can cause recurring headache. They include: sinus problems, labyrinthitis, various infections, trauma e.g. blow of the ear, hay fever, and tonsillitis
The nervous system and headache
Irritated, inflamed or damaged nerves can bring on a headache. Causes may include haemorrhages, infection such as meningitis, nerve and very rarely, a tumor.
This type of headache is relatively uncommon and it tends to affect men than women. It involves severe pain usually on one eye, swelling and watering of the affected eye. It can be triggered by cigarettes and alcohol. However, the underlying cause is not clearly known and it can be treated with medication or oxygen therapy.