Most patients presenting with headache are managed medically with excellent response to treatment. There are various over the counter and prescription based medication available both for treating acute episodes of headache as well as to prevent episodes of severe headache.
Overview of Headaches
Headaches are a common and unpleasant type of pain that affects the head, neck, and face. They range from mild to severe and can present themselves differently based on the root cause and the individual. Headaches are a complex and nuanced condition to manage that may require treatment from a headache specialist in Singapore.
There are two types of headaches: primary and secondary. Many of us are familiar with primary headaches which don’t have a specific underlying cause. These include migraine, cluster, and tension headaches. Secondary headaches are a response to issues such as infection, injury, or other underlying medical conditions. Identifying and addressing the root cause of head pain is essential in managing secondary headache symptoms.
Understanding Secondary (Organic) Headaches
Unlike primary headaches, secondary headaches are not a standalone condition but a symptom of other possible health issues. Primary headaches, such as migraine, occur independently and are not necessarily triggered by something else that is going on in the body. Secondary headaches are usually triggered by conditions that affect surrounding muscles, blood vessels, or nerves. They display several warning signs and symptoms, which we will dive into shortly.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Secondary Headaches
At the end of the day, you know your body best. If something seems off and you are experiencing sudden and spontaneous headaches, it’s important to seek the opinion of a medical professional. Below are possible symptoms of warning signs, but they are not full-scale.
- A headache that is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever, confusion, or vision changes. Depending on the severity, these could indicate an infection or neurological disorder.
- A headache that occurs in individuals who have recently experienced a head injury or have a medical history of cancer, preeclampsia, or metastatic tumor.
- A headache that is unresponsive to treatments. This could indicate a hormonal imbalance or a chronic condition such as diabetes. It could also indicate a medication headache overuse, meaning, the medication ends up “rebounding” and causing more headaches.
- Other signs include sudden headaches that bring a different sensation than usual, especially to those over the age of 50; headaches that wake you up from sleep; headaches that worsen when moving around or coughing and sneezing, etc.
Underlying Conditions of Secondary Headaches
As mentioned above, a patient’s underlying health is what triggers secondary headaches. Root causes such as trauma from an injury are easy to ascertain while other conditions such as infection can be more complicated to diagnose. If you are experiencing sudden headaches accompanied by the above symptoms, you should be evaluated by a headache specialist in Singapore. Underlying conditions include but are not limited to the following:
- A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. They can be noncancerous or cancerous and cause headaches, vomiting, vision changes, and more due to the mass’s pressure on the brain tissue.
- High blood pressure is a condition where blood is circulating too fast, putting stress on the arteries, heart, and blood vessels. This includes the neck and head area and may even cause dizziness and chest pains.
- Infections that stem from bacteria or viruses cause inflammation of the tissue in your body. These infections can spread to and affect the brain and membranes along the spinal cord.
- Spontaneous Intracranial Hypotension (SIH) is a condition that stems from low fluid pressure in the skull. In essence, the dura (a membrane that covers the spinal cord and brain) leaks spinal fluid, causing intracranial hypotension.
- Other Head Diseases and Disorders such as arterial tears, blood clots, and acute sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) can cause secondary headaches.
Healthy Lifestyle Strategies to Avoid Secondary Headaches
For root causes such as high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend exercise, eating healthy, and taking certain medications. Other causes such as sinusitis will require you to avoid allergens, smoke, and other weather-related triggers. For optimal health in general, it’s extremely beneficial to remain active, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and reduce stress.
Neurointerventional procedures are minimally invasive treatments for secondary headaches. They are performed by specialists and target the blood vessels and nerves in the head, neck, and face area.
- Embolization is a procedure that blocks blood flow to certain vessels which reduces the pressure that causes headaches.
- Nerve stimulation uses electrical impulses to stimulate and regulate nerves that carry pain signals to the brain.
- Angioplasty and stenting use a small medical balloon to inflate an artery and then insert a mesh tube (stent) to keep it open which improves blood supply to the brain.
Consult With Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic Today
If persistent or severe headaches disrupt your daily life, it’s time to consult with a headache specialist in Singapore. Dr. Manish Taneja has nearly 30 years of experience and a dually trained and certified neuro interventional and peripheral vascular interventionist in Singapore. Contact our clinic today for compassionate and professional care.
Read More About Neurointerventional Treatments on Our Blog
To dive deeper into the types of neurointerventional treatments, head over to our clinic’s blog.
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