Everyone should understand that there are many different causes for a headache. Headache can be considered as one of the most common medical problems experienced by a person.

Some people may neglect the occurrence of a headache and simply let it pass thinking that it is nothing to worry about. What they do not realize is the fact that a headache can actually be caused by an underlying dangerous disease. 

A headache can be classified according to its severity. Some can be tolerable, while others can be truly so severe that it can interfere with your daily activities. Regardless of the severity, you should be able to understand what the underlying cause is so that you can use the most appropriate treatment for it.  There are about a hundred or more different kinds of headaches and that is why you should learn how to properly identify the type that you have.

Headaches can actually be divided into two major kinds: primary and secondary headaches. Primary and secondary headaches have their own specific set of causes.

Primary Headaches

The primary headaches are known to be the most common types of headaches that one may encounter.  Some of the primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, hemicranias continua and cluster headaches.

Causes of Primary Headaches

Stress and Sleep Deprivation: Tension Headache

Stress and sleep deprivation are considered to be the main causes of the tension headache. In a tension headache, the pain usually occurs on the lower portion of the head and then continues to spread into other parts of the body like the neck and the eyes.  The pain associated with a tension headache is described as a squeezing sensation together with the exertion of a constant pressure. The pain is usually experienced on both sides of the head and is described to be anything from very tolerable up to truly severe in nature.

The pain associated with tension headaches usually occurs less than once every two weeks while other conditions may actually be chronic as the person may experience the pain more frequently. Usually for every attack, a tension headache lasts for an average of 5 hours.

Genetics and Triggers: Migraine

Certain types of headaches can be caused by genetics and/or certain kinds of triggers a person is exposed to. Migraines fall into this category. Migraine is described as a chronic problem wherein a person usually experiences chronic attacks of headache together with other symptoms that affect the nervous system. Most of the pain that is associated with a migraine is definitely intolerable and that is why you should seek proper medical attention once you are diagnosed to have such a condition.

Compared to the tension headache, the pain associated with migraine usually affects only one side of the head. Headache, nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light and sound may also be experienced by persons suffering with a migraine.  There is also a notable aura which serves as the signal that the person will have a migraine attack soon. This aura could either be visual, language or motor in nature.

Dilation of the Blood Vessels: Cluster Headaches or Vascular Headaches

Certain changes in the blood vessels can also be considered as a cause of a headache. The specific type of headache brought about by these blood vessel changes is known as the vascular headache or cluster headache.  As the blood vessels dilate, a great amount of pressure is exerted onto the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for providing sensations for the entire face.

This is the largest among the cranial nerves and that is why it can easily be affected by the unwanted dilation of the blood vessels. The pain associated with vascular headaches is described to be unilateral or occurring on just one side of the head. The pain is also known to be intense and intolerable.   

Many people even consider the pain brought about by cluster headaches as one of the worst types of pain that anyone could ever experience.  The pain attacks all of a sudden and it is described to last for about half an hour or even longer.   

Idiopathic: Hemicranias Continua

Sometimes, the cause of the headache may be unknown or idiopathic. One of the types of headaches that have an idiopathic cause is the Hemicranias continua. Hemicranias Continua or what is commonly known as HC is defined as a persistent type of headache that usually occurs on one side of the head.  This type of headache is known to be very responsive to Indomethacin for treatment. The headache associated with this condition is described to be persistent for a minimum of three months or longer together with autonomic symptoms like nasal congestion and lacrimation.

Compression of a Nerve: Trigeminal Neuralgia

Another cause of headache is the compression of the nerve specifically involving the trigeminal nerve. This condition is known as Trigeminal Neuralgia or Tic Douloureux. The pain associated with this condition is described to be intense and intolerable. The pain radiates from the trigeminal nerve and spreads to other parts of the face.  The facial pain may only last for several minutes, or  it can even last up to several hours. Usually, only one side of the face is affected with this condition.

Head and Neck Diseases or Problems: Secondary Headache

Other notable head and neck disorders can be considered as one of the causes of headache as well. This type of headache is known as a secondary headache. Usually, strain in the muscles controlling the head can be the cause of secondary headaches. You must first be able to treat the underlying disease condition before you can actually eliminate the secondary headache that is present.

These are just some of the most common causes of headaches that people should definitely be more aware of. If you keep experiencing recurrent headache then you should seek medical advice so that your doctor can send you for the appropriate investigation to find out what the cause of your persistent headache is.