Seven out of 10 people in the U.S. have at least one headache a year. The majority of headaches last only two to three hours, but some can persist up to two weeks at a time. The two main types of headache are primary and secondary. More than 90 percent of all headaches are primary headaches, which include tension-type, migraine and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are those that result from a specific medical conditions such as an infection or increased pressure in the skull due to a tumor. These headaches account for fewer than 10 percent of all headaches.
How do headaches develop?
The cause of headaches is not yet completely understood. Although genetics may play a role in predicting the likelihood of a person with problem headaches, this has been difficult to verify. Muscle tension headaches seem to arise from genetic vulnerability and the environment such as stress and bad posture. Migraine headaches affect approximately 25 million people in the U.S. each year. There are numerous possible causes for migraines, ranging from functional changes in the trigeninal nerve system to mineral and/or nutritional imbalances to hormonal irregularities. Close to 80 percent of all individuals who suffer from migraines have a close relative with the disorder. Depression is known to cause both migraines and tension headaches. Headaches may also be triggered by allergies and poor eating habits.
If headaches occur in conjunction with neck pain they may be a result of loose or injured ligaments in the neck vertebrae, which can cause referred pain to the head.
What are the symptoms of a headache?
Symptoms vary according to type of headache. A muscle tension headache is described as a constant and throbbing pain, usually felt above the eyes or more generally over the head. Pressure felt behind the eyes may be accompanied by tightness around the neck. Migraine headache symptoms include anxiety and mood changes, an altered sense of taste and smell, either an excess or a lack of energy, visual disturbances, a pins-and-needles sensation or numbness in the face, pounding on one side of the head, nausea and a dislike of bright light or loud noises.
Conventional medical treatments may help relieve the symptoms of headaches but they do not address the root of the problem. Generally, by undergoing comprehensive natural medicine testing, the reasons for recurring or chronic headaches can be found. Some of these reasons include sensitivities or allergies to foods, hormonal irregularities and referred pain patterns.
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