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Headache

Head pain or discomfort.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Headache

You're sitting at your desk, working on a difficult task, when it suddenly feels as if a belt or vice is being tightened around the top of your head. Or you have periodic headaches that occur with nausea and increased sensitivity to light or sound. Maybe you are involved in a routine, non-stressful task when you're struck by head or neck pain.

Sound familiar? If so, you've suffered one of the many types of headache that can occur on its own or as part of another disease or health condition.

Anyone can experience a headache. Nearly 2 out of 3 children will have a headache by age 15. More than 9 in 10 adults will experience a headache sometime in their life. Headache is our most common form of pain and a major reason cited for days missed at work or school as well as visits to the doctor. Without proper treatment, headaches can be severe and interfere with daily activities....Read more about Headache NIH - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Triptans for acute cluster headache

Cluster headaches are excruciating headaches of extreme intensity. They can last for several hours, are usually on one side of the head only, and affect men more than women. Multiple headaches can occur over several days. Fast pain relief is important because of the intense nature of the pain with cluster headache.

Drugs for preventing headache after a lumbar puncture

Lumbar puncture is an invasive procedure that medical personnel use to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic purposes (e.g. to diagnose meningitis or subarachnoid haemorrhage) by inserting a needle into the lower spinal region. It can also be used to inject medications such as anaesthetics and analgesics (to perform regional anaesthesia), chemotherapy or radiological contrast agents.

Acupuncture for tension‐type headache

The available evidence suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension‐type headache.

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Summaries for consumers

Triptans for acute cluster headache

Cluster headaches are excruciating headaches of extreme intensity. They can last for several hours, are usually on one side of the head only, and affect men more than women. Multiple headaches can occur over several days. Fast pain relief is important because of the intense nature of the pain with cluster headache.

Drugs for preventing headache after a lumbar puncture

Lumbar puncture is an invasive procedure that medical personnel use to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic purposes (e.g. to diagnose meningitis or subarachnoid haemorrhage) by inserting a needle into the lower spinal region. It can also be used to inject medications such as anaesthetics and analgesics (to perform regional anaesthesia), chemotherapy or radiological contrast agents.

Acupuncture for tension‐type headache

The available evidence suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension‐type headache.

See all (282)

Terms to know

Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches are characterized by excruciating, piercing pain on one side of the head and eye; they occur more frequently in men than women.
Migraine
Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision.
Primary Headaches
Headaches that occur on their own with no detectable underlying cause, such as migraine.
Secondary Headaches
Headaches that are caused by an underlying condition or disease.
Tension-Type Headache
A headache associated with muscle tightness which may radiate to other parts of the body.

More about Headache

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Head pain, Cephalalgia, Cephalgia, Cephalodynia

Other terms to know: See all 5
Cluster Headache, Migraine, Primary Headaches

Related articles:
Migraine: Overview
Signs of Migraine and Other Types of Headaches

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