Overview of Headache

Headache Meaning in Urdu

سر درد ایک عام اور معمولی طبی علامت ہے جو کہ بہت سے لوگوں کو متاثر کرتی ہے۔ لیکن اگر یہ شدت اختیار کر جائے کافی بے چینی کا باعث بن سکتی ہے۔ سر درد کو بہت سی اقسام میں تقسیم کیا جاتا ہے۔ دردِ شقیقہ بھی سر درد کی ایک قسم ہے جسے سب سے خطرناک سمجھا جاتا ہے۔ اس طبی علامت کی بنیادی وجوہات میں الکوحل کا استعمال، نائٹریٹ سے بھرپور غذائیں، سونے کی روٹین میں تبدیلی، کھانا نہ کھانا، اور ذہنی دباؤ شامل ہے، تاہم یہ ضروری نہیں ہے کہ صرف ان وجوہات کی وجہ سے ہی سر درد لاحق ہو۔


A headache (Dard Sar/ درد سر) is an uncomfortable pain in the head or neck region. Usually, everyone experiences a headache once a year. It can be mild or severe, however, severe headaches can disturb normal daily activities. There can be various reasons behind the onset of a headache. If it occurs frequently it can be a sign of an underlying disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Headache

Symptoms of headaches are different for each type. Some common symptoms of each headache type include:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches usually feature the following symptoms:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Pain that is dull and aching
  • Pressure across the forehead that spread to the temples and back of the head

Cluster Headaches

Some common symptoms of cluster headaches may include:

  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Pain on one side
  • Throbbing and constant pain
  • Migraine Headaches

Some common symptoms of migraine headaches may include:

  • A pulsating feeling in the head
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe, throbbing pain
  • Rebound Headaches

Some common symptoms of rebound headaches may include:

  • Irritability
  • Trouble remembering important details
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness

Types of Headache

Headaches can be classified into two groups based on their cause, such as:

Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are caused by the overactivity of pain-sensitive structures in the head. These headaches are not caused by any underlying condition. These include:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches commonly occur in women above 20 years of age. It feels like a band is tightly around the forehead. In this headache, muscles of the neck and scalp are tense. Poor posture and stress are considered the main factors responsible for tension headaches.

Tension headaches can last for several minutes, however, sometimes they don't go away for many days. Often these headaches are episodic.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are characterized by burning pain in one temple or behind the eye. These pains are usually non-throbbing and cause a runny nose and teary eyes. These headaches can last for a long period called the cluster period. The cluster period can extend to six weeks. These headaches are recurrent and occur in episodes. This type of headache is not common and only affects males above age 40.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are linked with severe symptoms that are intense and debilitating. These headaches cause pounding pain usually on one side of the head. Migraines can exist in different forms, including:

  • Chronic migraine lasts for a longer period, about half a month.
  • Hemiplegic migraine symptoms resemble a stroke.

Rebound Headaches

Rebound headaches occur if you quit the medication that you usually take to relieve headaches. these medications may include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Ergotamine
  • Triptans
  • Painkillers

Thunderclap Headaches

Thunderclap headaches are severe, irregular, and sudden. They appear suddenly and last for about 5 minutes. These headaches can be a symptom of an underlying condition in which brain blood vessels may be affected.

Some other primary headaches can be:

  • Chronic daily headaches (for example, chronic migraine, chronic tension-type headache, or hemicranias continua)
  • Exercise headaches
  • Cough headaches
  • Sex headaches

Causes of Headache

The causes of headaches can be either primary or secondary depending upon the various factors. Let’s have a look at the causes.

Causes of Primary Headaches

Primary headaches are caused by the overactivity of pain-sensitive structures in the head. These headaches are not the result of any underlying problem.

Any problem with nerves and muscles in the head or neck region can cause primary headaches. However, sometimes genetic factors contribute to the occurrence of these headaches.

Some lifestyle factors can also cause primary headaches, such as:

  • Alcohol, particularly red wine
  • Stress
  • Poor posture
  • Certain foods, such as processed meats that contain nitrates
  • Skipped meals
  • Changes in sleep or lack of sleep

Causes of Secondary Headaches

A secondary headache can be a symptom of any underlying condition that triggers the pain-sensitive nerves. Various conditions can cause secondary headaches, including:

  • Acute sinusitis (nasal and sinus infection)
  • Blood clot (venous thrombosis) within the brain — separate from stroke
  • Arterial tears (carotid or vertebral dissections)
  • A brain aneurysm (a bulge in an artery in your brain)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Brain tumour
  • Chiari malformation (structural problem at the base of your skull)
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • Concussion
  • Dental problems
  • Dehydration
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Ear infection (middle ear)
  • Glaucoma (acute angle-closure glaucoma)
  • Giant cell arteritis (inflammation of the lining of the arteries)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Hangovers
  • Intracranial hematoma
  • Influenza (flu) and other febrile (fever) illnesses
  • Medications to treat other disorders
  • Meningitis
  • Overuse of pain relievers
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Panic attacks
  • Tight headgear, such as a helmet
  • Pseudotumor cerebri

Preventive Treatment

Preventive treatments are used if headaches occur episodically. Usually, Sumatriptan is recommended for the treatment of migraine headaches. Other medications may include:

  • Beta-blockers (propranolol, atenolol)
  • Verapamil (calcium channel blocker)
  • Methysergide maleate (helps to reduce blood vessel constriction)
  • Amitriptyline (antidepressant)
  • Valproic acid (anti-seizure medication)
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Lithium
  • Topiramate

Risk Factors of Headache

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the development of headaches, including:

  • Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to headaches.
  • Age: Headaches can occur at any age, but certain types of headaches are more common in certain age groups.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to experience headaches, especially migraines.
  • Hormones: Fluctuations in estrogen levels can trigger headaches in women.
  • Stress: Emotional or physical stress can trigger tension headaches.
  • Diet: Certain foods or beverages, such as alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods, can trigger headaches.
  • Sleep patterns: Irregular sleep patterns, sleep deprivation, or oversleeping can trigger headaches.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as bright lights or strong smells, can trigger headaches.
  • Medications: Certain medications, including some over-the-counter pain relievers, can cause headaches as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions: Headaches can be a symptom of underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, sinus infections, or brain tumors.



There are several types of headaches, each with its own unique set of triggers and symptoms. Here are some general prevention tips that can help prevent headaches of all types:

  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Drink plenty of water and other fluids to keep your body hydrated.
  • Manage Stress: Stress is a major trigger for tension headaches. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or massage to help manage stress.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can trigger headaches. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help prevent headaches by reducing stress and tension in the body.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help prevent headaches.
  • Avoid Trigger Foods: Certain foods and drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and processed foods can trigger headaches in some people. Avoiding these foods can help prevent headaches.
  • Maintain Good Posture: Poor posture can cause tension headaches. Make sure to sit up straight and avoid hunching over your computer or phone.
  • Wear Proper Eyewear: Eyestrain can cause headaches. Make sure to wear proper eyewear when using the computer or reading.
  • Limit Screen Time: Too much screen time can cause headaches. Take frequent breaks and look away from your screen to rest your eyes.
  • Avoid Strong Odors: Strong odors such as perfume, cigarette smoke, or cleaning products can trigger headaches. Avoid these odors whenever possible.

It's important to note that these prevention tips may not work for everyone. If you experience frequent or severe headaches, it's important to talk to a general physician about other possible treatment options.



A headache can be a symptom of any abnormality or other medical problem. A physician can determine the cause of the disease by inquiring about medical history or physical exam.

In case of any medical problem the doctor usually orders diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the disease. Common diagnostic tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)-  CBC blood test that is performed to determine if there is an infection in the body
  • Skull X-rays- an imaging test to get a detailed image of cranial bones
  • Sinus X-rays- an imaging test if the doctor suspects sinusitis
  • Head CT or MRI scan- if stroke, head injury, or clotting is suspected via an MRI scan or CT Scan.

Treatment of Headache | When to Consult a Doctor

Headaches can be treated in various ways depending upon the severity and type of headache.

Headache Natural Remedies

Headaches can be relieved by natural remedies. However, you should consult with a doctor before using them to prevent their contraction with other medicines. Some natural remedies include:

  • Butterbur: Butterbur extracts help to relieve migraines. However, it may cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Coenzyme Q10: This is an enzyme used for the treatment of migraines. Its 100 mg 3 times a day are recommended to reduce the severity of migraine.
  • Feverfew: An herb considered to be effective in the treatment of migraines.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that is usually infused to reduce the headache.
  • Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 is also called riboflavin that is recommended to take 200mg 2 times a day.

Advanced Treatment of Headaches

Treatment of headaches depends on the cause. If you experience a headache due to an underlying condition, it will eventually go away with the illness. However, sometimes there is no specific cause of the headache and can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, including:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)

If medications aren’t helping, various other treatments are used such as:

  • Biofeedback: A relaxation technique in which muscle tenseness and pain is recorded in order to manage it properly.
  • Stress Management: Classes taught the basics to manage stress and tension.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A psychological therapy that helps people to manage their problems.
  • Acupuncture: A Chinese pseudoscientific approach to manage stress and other psychological issues. In this approach, fine needles are inserted into the body.
  • Exercise: It can boost the level of brain chemicals that makes you happy and relaxed.
  • Cold or Hot Therapy: Hot or ice packs are applied to the head repeatedly in a day.
  • Hot Baths: Warm baths are taken to relax the tensed muscles.

If you experience headaches that are persistent and worrisome seek medical care as soon as possible.