A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck. Headache, like chest pain or back ache, has many causes. All headaches are considered primary headaches or secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not associated with other diseases. Examples of primary headaches are migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by other diseases. The associated disease may be minor or major. Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. As many as 90% of adults have tension headaches. Tension headaches are more common among women than men. Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. An estimated 28 million people in the US have migraine headaches. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty more women than men have them. Migraine often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as tension or sinus headaches. Cluster headaches are a rare but important type of primary headache, affecting mainly men. The average age of cluster headache sufferers is 28-30 years, although headaches may begin in childhood. Secondary headaches may result from innumerable conditions, ranging from life threatening ones such as brain tumors, strokes, meningitis, and subarachnoid hemorrhages to less serious but common conditions such as withdrawal from caffeine and discontinuation of analgesics (pain killing medication). Many people suffer from “mixed” headache disorders in which tension headaches or secondary headaches may trigger migraine. The treatment of the headache depends on the type and severity of the headache and on other factors such as the age of the patient. Headache is also referred to as cephalgia.
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Pain in various parts of the head, not confined to the area of distribution of any nerve. SEE ALSO: cephalodynia. SYN: cephalalgia, encephalalgia, encephalodynia.
- benign exertional h. h. occurring with exertion or straining in the absence of any intracranial disease.
- bilious h. SYN: migraine.
- blind h. SYN: migraine.
- cluster h. possibly due to a hypersensitivity to histamine; characterized by recurrent, severe, unilateral orbitotemporal headaches associated with ipsilateral photophobia, lacrimation, and nasal congestion. SYN: histaminic cephalalgia, histaminic h., Horton cephalalgia, Horton h..
- coital h. a form of benign exertional h. occurring during sexual activity. SYN: benign coital cephalalgia.
- fibrositic h. h. centered in the occipital region due to fibrositis of the occipital muscles; tender areas are present and, commonly, tender nodules are found in the scalp in the lower occipital region.
- histaminic h. SYN: cluster h..
- Horton h. SYN: cluster h..
- ice pick h. SYN: idiopathic stabbing h..
- idiopathic stabbing h. brief repetitive sharp pains in the temporal-parietal area of the head. SYN: ice pick h..
- muscle contraction h. SYN: tension h..
- nodular h. radiating pain in the head accompanied by nodular swellings in the splenius, frontalis, trapezius, and other muscles.
- organic h. h. due to intracranial disease.
- posttraumatic h. h. following trauma to the head or neck.
- reflex h. SYN: symptomatic h..
- sick h. SYN: migraine.
- spinal h. h., usually frontal or occipital, that follows lumbar puncture; precipitated by patient's sitting or standing, and relieved by lying down; due to leakage of cerebrospinal (CSF) fluid through the puncture site, with resulting reduction in CSF pressure and traction on the dural and cerebral vessels. SYN: post–lumbar puncture syndrome.
- symptomatic h. a h. secondary to another organic condition. SYN: reflex h..
- tension h. h. associated with nervous tension, anxiety, etc., often related to chronic contraction of the scalp muscles. SEE ALSO: posttraumatic neck syndrome. SYN: muscle contraction h., tension-type h..
- tension-type h. SYN: tension h..
- thunderclap h. sudden severe nonlocalizing head pain not associated with any abnormal neurological findings; of varied etiology, including subarachnoid hemorrhage, migraine, carotid or vertebral artery dissection, cavernous sinus thrombosis, and idiopathic.
- vacuum h. h. due to closure of the frontal sinus.
- vascular h. SYN: migraine.

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head·ache 'hed-.āk n pain in the head called also cephalalgia
head·achy -.ā-kē adj

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pain felt deep within the skull. Most headaches are caused by emotional stress or fatigue but some are symptoms of serious intracranial disease. See also cluster headache, migraine.

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head·ache (hedґāk″) pain in the head; called also cephalalgia, cephalgia, and cephalodynia.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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