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Headache is a pain anywhere in the head and neck region. It can occur as a result of a number of conditions and by a range of ailments, which may include tumor, migraine, sleep deprivation, stress, tension, injury, viral infection etc. The brain itself does not have pain receptors but other areas of head and neck have pain receptors. The headaches originating in the areas of the head directly are primary headaches and the headaches arising due to any other illness are called secondary headaches.

International Headache Society has divided headaches as primary and secondary depending on their causes. Whereas primary headaches are benign; not caused by some underlying disease or structural problems, they cause slight to moderate difficulties in daily life, secondary headaches are caused by underlying conditions such as an infection, head injury, vascular disorders, tumors. Secondary headaches can be harmless or dangerous.

Primary Headaches

The majority of the headaches are primary headaches and happens more in the age group of people between 20-40 years. The most common types are migraine and tension type headaches. Migraines typically present with pulsating head pain, nausea, photophobia, phonophobia. Tension type headaches usually present with non-pulsating bandlike pressure on both sides of the head, not accompanied by the other symptoms. Other very rare types of primary headaches include cluster headaches that have short episodes of 15 to 180 minutes with severe pain, trigeminal neuralgia that gives shooting face pain.

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches may be caused by the problems elsewhere in the head or neck. Some of these like cervicogenic headache are not harmful. Those using excessive painkillers for headaches get medication overuse headaches. Meningitis, bleeding inside the brain (intracranial hemorrhage), subarachnoid hemorrhage (acute, severe headache, stiff neck without fever), ruptured aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, brain tumor, dull headache, accompanied by nausea and vomiting are some of the causes of secondary headaches.


Ayurvedic Description Of Headache :

In Ayurveda, it is believed that headache is caused due to aggravation of Pitta in the body. In an aggravated state, Pitta impairs digestion, leading to production of Ama or toxins. This Ama gets stored in the Manovaha strotas (mind channels), thereby becoming the cause for headache. In chronic stages, the blockage of Manovaha strotas by Pitta dosha leads to the destruction of the Ojas (energy) in the body. This Ojas is the essence of all body tissues and provides strength to the nervous system and body.


Signs & Symptoms


  • Pain radiating to head and neck
  • Accompanied by uneasiness and lack of interest in activities
  • Irritability

Causes and Risk Factors


Anxiety gives more bouts of headache in people who remain anxious for some reason and such people are more prone to get headache frequently.


Depression aggravates the condition of headache and patients who have depression often complain of headache.

Sleep disturbances

Patients who are insomniacs tens to complain of headache too often, the disturbed sleep patterns leads to drowsiness and headache


Obesity increases the risk of headache and is a comorbid condition with migraine.


Snoring leads to low sleep and irritability which in turn increases the risk of headache.


Overuse of caffeine beyond a certain day limit causes headache as being diuretic in nature, it also dehydrates the patients.


Over the counter pain killing medicines increases the severity of headache if they are consumed regularly and injudiciously.

Self Care Tips

  • Keep a headache diary that helps in determining what triggers the headache so that the triggers can be avoided. Include details about every headache, such as when it started, what you were doing at the time and how long it lasted.
  • Avoid medication overuse. Taking headache medications, including over-the-counter medications, more than twice a week can increase the severity and frequency of the headaches.
  • The adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. So, get enough sleep in the night.
  • Don't skip the meals; eat healthy meals at the same time daily.
  • Avoid food or drinks, such as those containing caffeine, that seem to trigger headaches.
  • Weight management is a must thing in combating the headaches.
  • Exercise regularly, physical workout like yoga and pranayama can improve the physical and mental well-being and helps in managing headache.
  • Stress is a common trigger of headaches, stay organized, simplify the things and stay positive.
  • While some headache medications include caffeine, as it can be beneficial in reducing headache pain but it can also aggravate headaches. So, try and minimize or eliminate caffeine.
  • Apply a paste of ground clay or sandalwood powder mixed with rose water for relief in burning sensation with headache.
  • Mix ¼ teaspoon of clove powder with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon oil. Apply this paste on the affected area for 20-30 minutes.

The Ayurvedic treatment of headache does not focus on simply alleviating the pain but aims at treating the root cause. The ayurvedic herbal preparations are being advocated along with the change in lifestyle to balance aggravated body doshas and to cure the condition.