Headache is the symptom of pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It occurs in Migraines, tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches. There are over 200 types of headaches. Some are harmless, and some can be life-threatening. The description of the headache and findings in neurological examination will help determine whether additional tests are needed and what treatment is best.

Headaches can occur as a result of many conditions whether serious or not.  About half of adults have a headache on a given year. Tension headaches are the most common affecting about 1.6 billion people.

Headaches are classified in two categories: Primary and Secondary. Many medical conditions can cause headaches, but there are usually clues in the medical history or examination to suggest secondary headache.

Primary Headaches are benign, recurrent headaches not caused by an underlying disease. Primary Headaches are not dangerous and normally start in between the age of 20 and 40. On the other hand, Secondary Headaches are caused by an underlying disease and can either be harmless or life-threatening.

We often look for warning signs that will point to a secondary headache over a primary headache. Some of which are:

  • Abnormal Physical Exam
  • Abrupt onset of headache without any warning
  • Seizures
  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • Pregnancy
  • Change in the pattern of headaches
  • Headaches beginning at unusual ages (younger than 5 years old and older than 50 years old)


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