Headache is a common symptom and some time is a manifestation of the systemic disease like hypertension. Headache usually starts as a pain in the head and upper neck and increased gradually or resolving spontaneously.

Types of headache

Primary headache: Not associated with underlying medical condition and includes tension, migraine and cluster headache.
Secondary headache is usually after a head injury or due to intracranial mass or infection.


Tension headache: Starts as a pressure or band like tightness in the head and back of neck and gradually encircles the head.

Cluster headache: Usually occurs in groups or clusters and extends over several weeks or months with pain free interval of several weeks. During the headache the patient experiences multiple episodes of the pain in a single day which can last from 30-90 minutes. Theses headache can also include sharp penetrating pain behind the eye, watering of the eyes and stuffy nose.

Migraine headache: is usually unilateral accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Some people may experience flash of light, wavy lines blurry vision or dark spots before the onset of migraine which we call aura. The duration of the headache usually last for 1-2 hours or several days.
Some of the headaches resolve spontaneously and is usually not indicative of a serious underlying medical problem, but however you need to seek medical advice if you have,

  • Frequent episodes.
  • Different from the usual headache in terms of severity or location.
  • Worst headache of the life.
  • Previous Head injury.
  • Wakes you from sleep.
  • Does not respond to the usual treatment.
  • Is associated with seizure, vomiting, dizziness fever, stiff neck or change in speech and behavior.


If the doctor examining you does not find a serious underlying cause, he/she may try to find triggering factors or investigate further with basic non contrast Computer tomography scan of the brain or MRI of the Brain, routine blood investigation and blood pressure.

Sometimes headache can be a manifestation of systemic diseases like undiagnosed primary hypertension so it is advised to seek medical attention if you have unusual headaches.

Self treatment with frequent pain killers can cause irreversible renal injury, hence it must be avoided and doctor’s advise must be sought after.

Dr. Jaya Bharathi

Article by Dr. Jeya Barathi,
Radiologist, Kauvery Hospital