Headache is one of the most common health-related conditions, with around 15 per cent of us taking pain-relieving medication for a headache at any given time. It is likely that nearly all of us will experience headaches during our lifetime. People of any age can be affected, but people between the ages of 25 and 44 years are more likely to report having a headache. There are different types of headaches and many different causes, which explains why the condition is so common. Most headaches have more than one contributing factor. Some of the more common triggers for headache are lifestyle related, such as poor diet, stress, muscle tension, and lack of exercise. Serious underlying disorders, such as brain tumours, are rarely the cause of headache, although persistent headaches should always be investigated by a doctor. Headache can be classified into two broad categories: primary and secondary. Examples of primary headache include cluster and tension headaches. Secondary headaches are triggered by an underlying disorder – such as infection, injury or a tumour – and are a side effect of the main illness.
You feel pain when various structures of your head are inflamed or irritated. These structures include:
Anything that stimulates the pain receptors in a person’s head or neck can cause a headache, including: