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Types of Headaches

Headaches can be broken down into primary and secondary headaches.

Examples of primary headaches

These include migraine and tension headaches. There is also a specific subset of primary headaches that are associated with dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.

Secondary headaches

These are due to an underlying process or disease and examples include headaches due to high or low cerebrospinal fluid, a lesion that occupies space inside the skull, infections, inflammatory conditions, or specific disease processes that are outside the skull (such as ear conditions, eye problems, and sinus problems) with pain referred to or perceived as being within the head.

The way to differentiate between these conditions is by a careful history and examination of the nervous system and other various systems by a specialist who knows which features to look out for. More investigations can be taken such as imaging of the brain by CT scans or MRI scans.

“Chronic daily headache” is when a headache occurs on 15+ days a month, lasting for 4 hours or more, and lasts for more than 3 months. This is not a specific condition but a description of a pattern of disease with specific causes. Headaches that do not meet this definition are known as episodic headaches. This affects about 5% of the population and represents more than ⅓ of presentations to headache clinics. Migraine is one of the most common causes of chronic daily headaches. Other causes include tension-type headaches and new daily persistent headaches.

Headache specialists will look at specific medication conditions that are known to exacerbate headaches and will work with you to identify triggers. They will also look at non-medication treatment in conjunction with medications if deemed necessary.

A headache diary is your best friend - this will help your specialist track your unique headache journey and assist you to track progress and allow specific medications to be used when necessary.

Download your own Headache Diary here!

If you’re suffering from a headache condition, you can book an appointment with one of our headache specialist Neurologists who will perform a comprehensive assessment to get to the root cause of your condition, then place you on an evidence-based treatment plan. There are many effective headache therapies depending on the cause - don’t ignore the pain.

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