What is a Headache?

Specialists have identified a few major types of headache and migraine.


Tension headaches seem to be caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck, and they're characterised by dull, steady pressure. Migraines originate with constriction and expansion of blood vessels in the head. They cause throbbing pain often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light or sound. Agonising cluster headaches are sometimes triggered by drinking or smoking. They come episodically in groups, or ‘clusters’, followed by periods of remission. Headaches can be relieved with a variety of remedies.

Severe headaches

An occasional headache is usually nothing to worry about. But sudden, severe pain suggests a serious condition. Get immediate help if you develop an excruciating headache accompanied by blurred vision, or if you suddenly have difficulty moving any part of your body. The same applies if you get a fever, a stiff neck or if you have slurred speech or confusion, especially if you've received a blow to the head. You should also talk to your doctor if you have 3 or more headaches a week or if you find yourself taking pain-killers on a daily, or almost daily, basis.