home » department of neurology » non-migraine headaches

Non-Migraine Headaches

Tension Headache

More than 80% of us will suffer from a tension headache at some time in our lives. The pain is usually pressing or tightening in nature over both sides of the head. Nausea and vomiting are not a feature. Its cause is unknown but sustained contractions of the muscles around the head may play a role. Stress and lack of sleep are among the many triggers for this type of headache. Relaxation therapy is often a beneficial treatment. Frequent use of over the counter medications is not recommended and can worsen the problem in the long term.

Chronic Daily Headache

This is said to be present when tension headaches, as described above, are present for more than 15 days/month and last for more than 4 hours/day. Frequent use of over the counter painkillers can contribute to this type of headache. Several preventative medications are available.

Cluster Headaches

Only one person in one thousand is unfortunate enough to suffer from cluster headaches. 75% of sufferers are men. The pain is excruciating and is typically located around the eye, temple, or upper jaw. Attacks last 15-60 minutes and occur several times/day often at the same time. Facial swelling and nasal stuffiness are often associated with the pain. This type of headache requires immediate and effective treatment in a medical setting.

Secondary Headaches

In most people with headaches there is no underlying cause, the headache itself is the problem. A secondary headache, however, may be a sign of an underlying condition. It may be due to something as simple as neck problems or sinusitis. Rarely, a persistent headache may be caused by a more serious problem such as a brain tumour or infection within the brain. Secondary headache disorders can be ruled out by a history and examinations performed by a doctor, sometimes accompanied by further tests such as a brain scan.

Useful Information Resources

The following Websites have more extensive information on the various causes of headaches and their treatment: