Why Do We Get Headaches?

Headaches — barring migraine headaches, which are of a different type — are a painful symptom of an underlying systemic problem or cause.
There may be various reasons why one may develop a headache, each of which has a different trigger mechanism. But the resulting headache in all cases is a red flag signaling a disorder somewhere in the body or in the nervous system.

Generally, the cause of a headache can be dissected and understood once it is traced back to its physical or neurological origin. The actual pain we experience does not stem from the brain matter contained in the skull, but from the pain felt by the sensitive coverings of the brain, and of the large veins and arteries which drain fluid from that organ. Sinus, tooth, ear and muscle pain produce headaches by radiating the pain to these sensitive coverings when they tense, and when the muscles spanning the neck and the base of the skull contract.

Complaints of headaches commonly fall under the heading of vascular headaches, and result when the arteries in the skull dilate, often because of triggers that include hunger, caffeine deprivation or hangovers. Severe emotional trauma causes muscles over the back and at the lower part of the head and the neck to contract, resulting in an instantaneous headache.

The important thing to remember when one experiences a headache is that it is a symptom of underlying disorders with multiple causes that merit diagnosis.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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