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At National Headache Institute, we are committed to expert headache diagnoses, which enable us to provide the most effective treatments for our patients.
Our medical professionals take the time to carefully explore the cause and condition of each patient’s headaches so we can ensure we prescribe the correct treatment. There is no other medical facility in the nation that can compare with our approach to diagnosing different types of headaches, including migraines.
Primary Headache Disorders & Secondary Headaches
In the United States, primary and secondary headaches
are among the top reasons for doctor’s office visits. Migraines are among the leading causes of emergency room or medical office visit.
A headache is a symptom that can have many different causes. They range from tension and viruses to tumors or disease.
Nearly one in four American households has a member suffering from migraines
. That is approximately 28 million people. Broken down further, the figure translates to 18% of the female population and 6% of the males in the U.S. who suffer migraines.
In 1988 the International Headache Society categorized headaches into two basic types.
The first constitutes primary headache disorders which include migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches and headaches associated with exertion, colds and other benign conditions and activities.
The other category is secondary headaches, which are caused by evolving disorders like brain tumors, aneurysms, head trauma and brain hemorrhaging or inflammation.
Primary Headache Disorders:
Secondary Headache Disorders
- Brain Tumor or Abscess
- Brain Hemorrhage
- Brain Inflammation
- Intracranial Pressure
- Arteriovenous Malformation
- Head trauma, and hematoma
- Meningitis or encephalitis
- Cerebrovascular disease
It is important to differentiate among the types of headaches in question, whether primary or secondary. This is done by conducting a thorough neurological examination and complete patient history.
Answers to the following questions will guide the diagnosis:
- How long have you suffered from headaches?
- What triggers your headaches?
- Do you experience an aura, flashing lights, numbness or other symptoms?
- Is there a history of headaches in your family?
- Location, severity and description of pain
- Current and past treatment
Additionally, these comfort features are reliable aids in migraine diagnosis.
- Family migraine history
- Changes in headache locations
- Menstrual association
- Auras or prodromes, which are warning symptoms indicating the onset of a disease.
- Reliable headache pattern
- Good overall health
- Sleep resolution
- Meets International Headache Society criteria
Secondary headache disorders will often include signaling items in the patient history and examination results that will alert the physician to evaluate further. The following lists outline these features.
Warrants Further Evaluation
- Headache pattern change
- Onset after the age of 50
- An apoplectic event
- First or worst headache experienced
- A sub-acute headache that worsens progressively
- Headaches brought on by sneezing, coughing, sex or exertion
- Headaches that resist treatment