Eli5 when you have a headache, what is actually hurting? Why are there different types of headaches ?

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Eli5 when you have a headache, what is actually hurting? Why are there different types of headaches ?

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It’s usually the pain receptors around your blood vessels and muscles in you head, neck, and face that are being triggered. The thin layer of tissue (periosteum) that surrounds bones, muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears, as well as thin tissues that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord (meninges), arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated and cause a headache.

There’s a ton of different types of headaches, depending on the cause. For instance, swollen sinuses because you are sick can cause a certain type of headaches. Tension headaches occur when you’re muscles are tight. Some can happen when your blood vessels expand. Ones like a sinus headache that are caused by something else are known as secondary headaches, because it’s the result of another illness. Others, like a tension headache or migraine, are considered primary headaches.

Whats happening when the pain feels like its coming from *inside* your head?

Migraines are an interesting type of headache in that they are not that well understood, have a large number of symptoms and a follow a typical plan. The pain seems to be caused by constrictions in the blood vessels affecting the membranes surrounding the brain though what triggers this can be very hard to pinpoint – usualy dietry, lack of sleep, stress related, amongst other things.

Migraines also come with an interesting host of other symptoms, called: the predrome, aura, headache, vomiting-stage and postdrome.

The predrome and postdrome either not occur but could last for a couple of days. The symptoms here are very illdefined but some migraine sufferers can feel the start of a migraine days before. The postdrome is effectively a long recovery period lasting a day or so.

The aura is the migraine causing visual disturbances and this is followed by the actual headache itself which can be debilitating. Because the digestive system shuts down to a point (there seems to be a brain-stomach interaction) vomiting usually means the end of the headache phase. For us migrain sufferers this is a blessing !

A tension headache, the type of headache commonly associated with tiredness or stress, is caused by the muscles of your forehead, occiput and neck literally pulling on the scalp because they’ve become tense and contracted.