Oh my aching head! Nearly everyone has had a headache. The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don't get enough sleep, miss meals or use alcohol.
Headaches can have many causes, but serious causes of headaches are rare. Sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let your health care provider know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness or pain in the eye or ear.
Headaches affect millions of Americans. The three most common types of chronic headache are migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches. Each comes with its own telltale brand of pain.
- Migraines are characterized by throbbing pain and sometimes by other symptoms, such as nausea and visual disturbances. Migraines are more frequent in women than men. Stress can trigger a migraine headache, and migraines can also put the sufferer at risk for stroke.
- Cluster Headaches are characterized by excruciating, piercing pain on one side of the head; they occur more frequently in men than women.
- Tension Headaches are often described as a tight band around the head.