What is a headache? Headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers). The periosteum that surrounds bones; muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears; and meninges that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord, arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated to cause the pain of a headache. This pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, mild, or intense. Headache facts: The head is one of the most common sites of pain in the body. The most common types of headache can be classified as 1) primary, 2) secondary, and 3) cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches. The most common types of primary headaches are 1) tension, 2) migraine, and 3) cluster. Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache and usually are treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications for pain. Secondary headaches are a symptom of an injury or an underlying illness. Patients should seek medical care for new onset headaches, fever, stiff neck, change in behavior, vomiting, weakness, or change in sensation. How are headaches classified? There are three major categories of headache based upon the source of the pain: primary headaches; secondary headaches; and cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches. Headache Treatments: Treatment for a headache depends on the cause and type of headache. Common over-the-counter and home relief treatments for headache include: OTC pain medication like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), and naproxen (Aleve) Warm compress on the head Resting in a cool dark room Stress management techniques. What are primary headaches? Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types of headache. Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache. Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected. Cluster headaches are a rare type of primary headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s though women and children can also suffer this type of headache. Primary headaches can affect the quality of life. Some people have occasional headaches that resolve quickly while others are debilitated. While these headaches are not life-threatening, they may be associated with symptoms that can mimic strokes. Many patients equate severe headache with migraine, but the amount of pain does not determine the diagnosis of migraine.