Headaches – Causes, Treatment


Headaches (cephalgia) are among the most common complaints . Almost 70% of the German population suffer from acute or chronic headaches. Some people even suffer from daily headaches.

What are headaches?

Headaches can be divided into primary and secondary headaches. Primary headaches, which occur much more frequently, include migraines and tension headaches. This type of headache is to be regarded as an independent disease.

Most headaches, i.e. secondary headaches, occur as accompanying symptoms of various diseases. For example for colds and flu infections . Headaches are either dull, throbbing, stabbing, or throbbing. They can be unilateral or spread all over the head. Headaches often occur around the eyes, temples, forehead or the back of the head. Headaches can be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting , nausea or blurred vision .


Headaches can have a variety of causes. Statistically, the most common causes of headaches are tension headaches or migraines .

However, dehydration , alcohol, sunstroke , eye diseases, head injuries, mental or psychosomatic disorders can also be the cause of headaches.

Almost 220 triggering causes for headaches are known to medicine. Headaches can also be triggered by medication (e.g. painkillers), injuries or menstruation .

diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & History

Headaches can come on immediately or gradually. The diagnosis is simple: pain that occurs directly in the head can be described as a headache. An exception is pain in the neck area, because this can very often also be tension in the neck muscles, which is perceived as a headache. See also: neck pain .

The course is unpleasant, since the ability to concentrate clearly suffers, but the symptoms usually only last for a very short time. In addition to head shakes, dehydration is a common trigger of simple headaches. However , if the headache persists for more than a day or two and painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen are ineffective, a doctor must be consulted immediately.


In the context of headaches, some problems or complications can occur. Headaches are most commonly associated with general malaise and reduced performance. It doesn’t matter what the cause of the headache is. The reduced performance of those affected can also result in an inability to work.

Furthermore, concentration problems often arise as a result of headaches . Although these are temporary, they sometimes severely affect those affected in everyday life. If this complication occurs, the person concerned may not be able to actively participate in road traffic. Furthermore, depending on the cause of the headache, numerous other complications can occur. For example, nausea and vomiting are relatively common complications or problems resulting from headaches.

All of the complications mentioned can occur both with and without medical treatment. If headaches occur, it is important to take them seriously and take it easy on your body. Such behavior can reduce or prevent complications under certain circumstances. If they do occur, a doctor’s visit may be necessary in some cases.

When should you go to the doctor?

Some people have frequent headaches. Those affected should go to the doctor if the headache lasts for several days, is particularly severe or occurs on one side. A doctor’s visit is also indicated if accompanying symptoms such as blurred vision, dizziness or vomiting occur. The cause of such symptoms must be investigated. This can hide serious illnesses.

A fall-related headache can indicate a fracture, brain swelling, or concussion. All three require treatment. Self-treatment should be avoided after falls on the head. It is better to go to the doctor to be on the safe side, so that he can rule out a cerebral hemorrhage.

Overweight women of reproductive age are more likely to have headaches, which can be associated with visual disturbances. These can be symptoms of a tumor. However, it can also be a so-called pseudotumor cerebri or idiopathic intracranial hypertension. This condition is caused by the lack of drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid. The causes are not yet known. However, overweight and obese women are affected with striking frequency. Not all types of headaches are harmless.

In the case of persistent headaches, a feeling of ducking in the face and blurred vision, a frontal sinus infection should also be considered. Inhalation allergies can also cause stress on the frontal sinus. Triggers are perfumes, chemicals or smoke. If headaches cannot be traced back to a cause, it is always advisable to seek medical advice.

Treatment & Therapy

It is not always necessary to see a doctor for headaches, as the headaches usually go away quickly. Headaches associated with colds , stress , lack of sleep , overexertion and alcohol consumption are usually harmless and pass within a day.

If the headaches recur over a longer period of time or if the headaches are very severe and sudden, it is advisable to consult a doctor. As part of his diagnosis, the doctor will check in which area of ​​the head the headache occurs. He will also initiate investigations into the intensity and characteristics of the headaches. It is important to determine whether the headaches are distributed over the entire head or are unilateral. If chronic headaches are the cause, it is advisable to keep a diary about the headaches. In particular, the duration and occurrence of the headache should be documented.

If necessary, the doctor will also include psychosomatic and neurological abnormalities in his diagnosis. The specialist diagnosis of the ophthalmologist, the orthopedist or an ear, nose and throat doctor should possibly also be used for further treatment. Depending on the actual cause of the headache, blood tests and urine samples are also important treatment bases. Electrical brain waves, computed tomography, and ultrasound may also be required.

Long-term treatment is particularly necessary in patients with migraines . If the headache occurs in connection with a brain tumor , stroke or meningitis , this too must be treated immediately. However, this cause occurs very rarely. As with all symptoms, treatment for headaches depends on the cause.

Headache tablets with ingredients such as paracetamol , ibuprofen or substances containing acetylsalicylic acid are often bought. However, these drugs should be taken with caution. Consultation with the doctor is extremely useful.

Massages , autogenic training or acupuncture can also provide relief. While these procedures are not always scientifically sound, they are considered good headache treatments and preventatives.

Outlook & Forecast

The further course of headaches depends very much on the type of pain and the patient himself. In many cases, however, headaches are only temporary pains that disappear within a few hours or days. They very often accompany a cold or flu and are therefore perfectly normal. However, if the headache occurs over a long period of time and is relatively severe, a doctor must be consulted.

The treatment itself can be done with painkillers. However, since painkillers are relatively difficult for the stomach to digest, the patient should not take too many and consult a doctor in case of persistence.

Without treatment, headaches usually go away on their own. But they can also indicate other symptoms and problems. If the pain in the head occurs after an accident or after a blow to the head, you should see a doctor urgently. This could be a health hazard.

The course of the disease is largely positive for headaches and leads to success. The weather in particular has a major impact on headaches in many people and can cause them in the short term. If they disappear again afterwards, there is no need to see a doctor.


As is almost always the case when it comes to preventing headaches, a healthy lifestyle with plenty of sport and exercise and a healthy diet are the best guarantors against headaches. Furthermore, little stress, sufficient fluids, lots of sleep and relaxation exercises are excellent preventive measures. Also avoid alcohol and nicotine .

Home remedies & herbs for headaches

For acute headaches, rub the head and forehead gently and intensively with marjoram oil . Another help is to stand in the shower and direct the jet of hot water directly at the back of your neck.

↳ Further information: Home remedies for headaches

You can do that yourself

Headaches are common, but they don’t always need to be seen by a doctor. There are numerous home remedies available to relieve headaches. Worth mentioning is tiger balm or mint oil , which is dabbed on the forehead and temples. In particular, a potato pad is extremely proven. Here, some raw potatoes are cut into thin slices and placed on the forehead. As soon as the potatoes are warm, they should be removed and fresh ones put on.

Headaches can be self-treated with a simple massage . Done properly, it brings extraordinary relief. Massages also help with migraines. The forehead, temples, ears and neck should be rubbed with massage oil . In the best case, the oil contains essential components. The massage begins on the forehead. Affected people press hard with both index fingers on the bone in the middle under the hairline. From there the fingers are drawn towards the temple. At this point, the pressure should be relieved and stroked in a circular motion. Those affected should then exert some pressure on the upper edge of the eye sockets.

Lavender blossoms also help against headaches . About two teaspoons of lavender flowers are poured over 150 milliliters of hot water. It is advisable to consume the tea several times a day. It is best to drink this before going to bed.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.