Cluster headaches are one-sided headaches that usually occur in or around one eye. They are typically of short duration, usually lasting several minutes to several hours at the most. They are named "cluster" because they occur in a group or series. The patient has tearing of the eye, nasal congestion, facial flushing, and constriction of the pupil on the side of the headache. The series may last several months, occurring more frequently in the fall and spring, and the headaches may disappear for several months or several years. Some forms of cluster headaches, however, occur chronically.
There are several kinds of migraine headaches. They include:
- Abdominal migraine - a type of migraine in which the pain is over the upper part of the abdomen and lasts a few hours. It is most common in female children. Diagnosis is easily made because of the family history of migraine, the infrequency of the attacks, and the frequent simultaneous occurrence of headache. If it remains undiagnosed, however, the patient may be subjected to unnecessary surgery for abdominal complaints.
- Basilar artery migraine - a type of migraine that can occur in younger people, with the headache most often limited to the back of the head. The symptoms are caused by a diminished blood supply to the parts of the brain supplied by the basilar artery. Besides nausea, patients may have double-vision, unsteady gait, slurred speech and may seem confused. During the headache, many lose consciousness. Often these patients are mistakenly thought to be drunk or mentally ill. A previous history of migraine is helpful in making the diagnosis.
- Hemiplegic migraine - a very rare form of migraine in which there is paralysis of the arm or leg on one side of the body. The paralysis can occur before, during, or after the onset of a headache. There is frequently a family history of headaches with similar types of attacks. The attacks are usually temporary, but they may be prolonged and can cause some permanent paralysis.
- Menstrual migraine - a migraine that commonly afflicts women at ovulation or during their monthly periods. A drop in estrogen levels during these times may be a precipitating cause.
- Ophthalmoplegic migraine - a rare type of headache that occurs in children or young adults. Associated with the headache, there is paralysis of the third nerve and there may be drooping of the eyelid, dilation of the pupils, and paralysis of the eye muscles. This is a temporary type of migraine, and patients usually have a family history of similar attacks.
The area affected by sinus headache is usually above the eyes (frontal sinus) or below the eyes (maxillary sinus). Sinus headaches often follow an upper respiratory infection which blocks the sinuses. The pain is caused by a stretching of the lining of the open cavities and the formation of pus within the sinuses that can't drain. Often the areas above or below the eyes, where the sinuses are located, are very tender. Acute sinusitis, associated with a fever and a blocked sinus, can cause acute head pain.
A tension-type headache is classified as a non-specific headache, which is not vascular or migrainous, and is not related to organic disease. It is caused by a tightening
of the muscles at the back of the neck and of the face and scalp. Muscle contraction headache is a steady, mild headache, and is sometimes described as having a band-like distribution around the head. It can occur occasionally, or once or twice a month. The simple, episodic tension headache is often associated with fatigue and everyday stress. Sufferers rarely consult a physician for their headaches. Those who do seek the help of a physician have a chronic type of muscle contraction headache, which may be due to a psychological problem, hidden depression, or muscle spasms in the cervical or thoracic areas.
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