Headaches have recently been categorized by two types; primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not a result of any other diseases. Specifically known as: tension, migraine and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by associated diseases such as brain tumors, strokes or meningitis.

Tension Headache: are usually brought on by chronic muscle spasms of neck and upper back. Tension headaches can be the result of poor posture, a traumatic injury, overuse, stress and T.M.D. Up to 90% of adults have had or will have tension headaches. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. There is little research to confirm the exact cause of tension headaches. Tension headaches occur because of physical or emotional stress placed on the body. These stressors can cause the muscles surrounding the skull to clench the teeth and go into spasm. Physical stressors include difficult and prolonged manual labour, or sitting at a desk or computer for long periods of time concentrating. Emotional stress may also cause tension headaches by causing the muscles surrounding the skull to spasm or develop trigger points.

Migraine Headache: are due to a temporary narrowing, then widening of blood vessels in the brain, thus greatly increasing blood flow. Usually symptoms are very severe and affecting only one side of the head. Often preceded by warning signs and influenced by external factors. Visual and digestive disturbances are characteristic. It is estimated that 6% of men and up to 18% of women will experience a migraine headache in their lifetime.

Cluster Headache: due to a disturbance in blood flow to the brain. Occur in groups or “clusters”. Is usually severe and one-sided, but unlike migraine, it usually shows no warning signs or associated visual or digestive symptoms. Alcohol may be a trigger.

Treatment of these headaches can be very affective with acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy and naturopathic medicine depending on the cause.

Learn more at Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia.

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