Headaches: From Harmless to Severe
Headaches are extremely common and have been experienced by most people at one time or another. The majority of headaches are tension headaches, which are irritating, but harmless. It is rare that people experience headaches that can be associated with severe, potentially life-threatening, neurological diseases such as meningitis, aneurysms and brain tumors.
Symptoms are what set apart each type of headache, varying from harmless to extreme. Tension headaches are the most common because they are caused by stress and are not due to any type of nervous system disease. Migraine headaches are also common, but are unique in pain. This type of headache usually occurs on the side of the head and comes on as intense, throbbing pain in the temple, forehead, eye, or back of the head. Other symptoms of migraines include nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Cluster headaches are very rare, but incredibly painful and oftentimes debilitating. They tend to occur in a cyclical pattern with periods of persistent attacks that can last for weeks or months. These periods are usually followed by a remission period, without attacks, that can last months or years.
The more severe headaches include meningitis headaches, which are caused by an infection in the space around the brain and spinal cord. In addition, cerebral aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhages are also potentially life-threatening headaches and are due to bleeding around the brain caused by a cerebral hemorrhage. Brain tumor headaches are incredibly rare, but are caused by a tumor that would form due to irritation of the membranes surrounding the brain.