June is National Headache awareness month.  Did you know there are categories of headaches including primary and secondary?  Let’s look at the differences between them.

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. [1]

A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur because of physical or emotional stress placed on the body. Physical stressors include difficult and prolonged manual labor, or sitting at a desk or computer for long periods of time concentrating. Emotional stress also may cause tension headaches by causing the muscles surrounding the skull to contract.

Cluster headaches are headaches that come in groups (clusters) separated by pain-free periods of months or years. A patient may experience a headache on a daily basis for weeks or months and then be pain free for years.

Secondary headaches are those that are due to an underlying structural problem in the head or neck. This is a very broad group of medical conditions ranging from dental and sinus pain to life-threatening conditions like bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis or meningitis.

This group of headaches also includes those headaches associated with substance abuse and excess use of medications used to treat headaches (rebound headaches). [1]

The National Headache Society lists categories of secondary headaches.  Some causes are listed below (this is not a complete list)

Head and neck trauma, concussion, tumor, blood vessel problems in the head and neck (aneurysms),

medications and drugs (including withdrawal from those drugs), changes in the body’s environment (such as dehydration, hypothyroidism and high blood pressure), psychiatric disorders.

It is important to remember that OTC medications, while safe, are medications and may have side effects and potential interactions with prescription medications. [2] Remember, not all headaches are created equal.  Call Valley Healthcare today to discuss the cause and best treatments for your headaches.

[1] http://www.medicinenet.com/

[2] http://www.headaches.org


Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell has managed many specialty areas of healthcare including, kidney transplant, physical therapy and surgery. She combines her expertise in patient relations with her love of writing to bring awareness of health related issues. In her blog, Dreamlife Moments, she writes about mindfulness of time and recognizing more of the positive moments happening around us every day that creates a more positive life experience. Jennifer and her husband Byron are recent empty-nesters who enjoy traveling with their bichon Aissa, geocaching and volunteering wherever they go. Who is this chickie anyway? Connect with Jennifer on her Facebook Page, Blog and Twitter to find out more.

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