Headache is a common condition that affects nearly everyone at least once in their lifetime. This condition is associated with significant loss of working hours. Most headaches are not harmful and can be treated with lifestyle changes, rest and painkillers.
However, you may need to see your family doctor for prescription medication and further investigations if the headache or migraine:
Symptoms vary depending on the type of headache:
Tension headache - this is the most common type of headache. Pain ranges from mild to moderate and feels like a tight band pressing on the forehead and around the head.
Cluster headache - pain always occurs on the same side of the head, usually over one eye. There may be redness and tearing of the affected eye but the other side of the head will not be affected.
Migraine - Usually affects one side of the head and throbbing in character. The pain can be moderate to severe. Symptoms of migraine can last from four hours to three days or longer and usually go through four phases which are not seen in other types of headaches:
Occasionally, headache can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have headache with any of these symptoms or the following risk factors (Red flags):
Most headaches are categorised as primary headache disorders, meaning that they are not a symptom of another underlying health condition.
Commonly identified risk factors for primary headache disorders are poor lifestyle habits eg. sleep deprivation, irregular meals, dehydration, stress etc.
Hormonal factors may also play a part especially for migraine in women.
The treatment of headache may vary according to the underlying headache diagnosis.
You are advised to get early medical consultation if there are any red flags present (as listed in Signs and Symptoms).
Besides medical treatment, patients are also advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle and diet which may have an impact on headache management.