Also Known As: Cephalalgia, Headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain. Several areas of the head and neck have these pain-sensitive structures, which are the cranium (the periosteum of the skull), muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes.
There are a number of different classification systems for headaches. The most well-recognized is that of the International Headache Society. Treatment of a headache depends on the underlying etiology or cause, but commonly involves analgesics. (pain reducers)
During a given year, 90% of people suffer from headaches. Of the ones seen in the ER, about 1% have a serious underlying problem.
Primary headaches account for more than 90% of all headache complaints, and of these, episodic tension-type headache is the most common.
It is estimated that women are three times more prone than men to suffer from migraines. Also, the prevalence of this particular type of headache seems to vary depending on the specific area of the world where one lives. However, migraines appear to be experienced by 12% to 18% of the population.
Cluster headaches are thought to affect less than 0.5% of the population, though their prevalence is hard to estimate because they are often mistaken for a sinusal problem. However, according to the existent data, cluster headaches are more likely to occur in men than women, given that the condition tends to affect 5 to 8 times more men.