Although every person experiences a different level of pain in a headache, we all are familiar with how a headache feels. Headaches are a common health problem. When severe, it can affect the quality of life and lower the overall productivity of an individual. It is a common complaint, and it is often correlated with stress and tension. We can categorize a headache into two types, and both these type vary significantly in intensity, frequency, and duration.
- Primary headache - It include headaches that are not associated with some underlying condition, such as a migraine and tension-type headache.
- Secondary headache - It includes headaches that result from some underlying medical condition, such as a brain tumor or an infection.
A headache is one of the most ignored health problems but it is essential to understand that a headache can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. As there are a number of medicines available in the market, most people take such tablets that act as a pain relief and then they forget about a headache. Although it is not necessary that a headache is a sign of an underlying condition, it can be and it is important to keep a check on it. It is known that almost every disease has some early warning signs and it is important to know those signs. Some of the conditions that can cause a headache as their early warning sign are as follows:
Meningitis is a severe infection of the meninges that causes inflammation. Meninges is a thin lining that covers the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis is a critical health condition that is accompanied by a wide range of symptoms such as a severe headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, pain in the calf, confusion, and change in breathing pattern. There are two types of infection, and the severity of symptoms depends on the type of infection an individual has.
1. Viral meningitis - It is a less severe type of meningitis which generally resolves without any treatment.
2. Bacterial meningitis - It is a severe type of meningitis which can even cause death and it involves brain damage, blindness and hear loss.
Meningitis is an infection due to virus or infection. Most often, meningitis occurs when virus or bacteria from an infection in another part of the body travel through the bloodstream to the brain and the spinal cord. It can also be spread to the brain due to some severe head injury. Meningitis can be prevented as there are various vaccines present for the prevention of meningitis.
Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a disease which occurs when the blood vessels on either side of the brain start to leak blood. This blood settles in different areas of the brain, such as between the surface of the brain and the skull, known as the subarachnoid space. Although the blood can settle in various parts, when the blood settles in the subarachnoid area, it causes a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
A headache is the most common symptom that occurs in this disease, but the severity of a headache can vary significantly from one patient to another. Some patients express that they experienced the worst headache of their life. Other symptoms that can occur in patients having subarachnoid hemorrhage include dizziness, weakness, nausea, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. Various factors can cause strain to the blood vessels in the brain and increase the risk of developing this disorder, and some of the factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Severe accident or fall
- Arteriovenous malformation
A subdural hematoma is a medical condition which is defined as a collection of blood which accumulates inside the skull but outside the brain. The bleeding occurs within the layers of tissues that surround the brain and is collected under the bain’s tough collective wrapper. Most often, it happens due to the sudden shaking of the skull as it can tear the small blood vessels that bridge between the skull and brain. A subdural hematoma is of three types:
1. Acute subdural hematoma - The accumulation usually occurs within the 72 hours of a traumatic event.
2. Subacute subdural hematoma - The accumulation usually occurs within 3 to 7 days of an injury.
3. Chronic subdural hematoma - The accumulation usually occurs within weeks to months. This type of subdural hematoma is more common in the elderly population.
Other than severe headaches, it is accompanied by symptoms like dizziness, change in vision, nausea, vomiting, and weakness on one side of the body. Many people also experience some behavioral and personality changes.
Temporal arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis is a condition that causes severe inflammation of the blood vessels, especially the arteries of the skull. It is a serious disorder that causes symptoms like a severe headache, tenderness over the scalp, weight loss, problems with vision and occasionally it can also lead to the occurrence of mini strokes when blood vessels are affected. Temporal arteritis is one of the groups of conditions which are referred to as vasculitis and vasculitis means an inflammation of the blood vessels.