Causes of Acute headache
• Head trauma
• Subarachnoid hemorrhage
• Venous thrombosis
• Pseudotumour cerebri
• Intracranial infection
What are the most common types of headaches?
Tension headache: This is the most common type of headache. These headaches may occur during the day, typically in the late afternoon, and may go away by the evening. The pain is usually mild or moderate. You may have problems tolerating bright light or loud noise. The pain is usually felt across the forehead or in the back of the head, and it may be only on one side. These headaches may occur every day.
Migraine headache: Migraine headaches are usually recurring and cause moderate or severe pain. The headaches generally last from 1 to 3 days. Pain tends to be on only one side of the head, and may change sides. The pain is often located in the temple or the back of the head, and it may feel throbbing. The pain may also be behind your eye, and feel sharp and steady.
Migraine with aura: An aura is something that you see or feel, and occurs before a headache. People with an aura before their migraine headache often see a small spot surrounded by bright zigzag lines. Other signs or symptoms may follow the aura.
Cluster headache: The pain of a cluster headache is usually on one side of the head. It often causes severe pain, and can last for 30 minutes to 2 hours. These headaches may occur once or twice each day. These headaches occur more often at night, and may wake you up.
How to Diagnose Acute Headache
Acute Headache accounts for about 3-8% of emergency room attendances, and for about 3% of emergency admissions to an acute medical ward.
As a neurologist working in an acute general hospital I would see about 1-2 acute headache cases each week – about 100 per annum.
Non-serious secondary headache accounts for about 25% and primary headaches still account for over 60% of hospitalized headache diagnoses.
Here’s a guide on how make a headache diagnosis and sort out the serious from non-serious causes of acute headache. It is based upon a lecture I gave to a Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Up-Date Meeting in 2008, 2009, and remains current for 2012.
Acute Headache Treatment
The treatment of a headache depends on the underlying cause.
Treatment options for a non-serious headache includes:
• Cold compresses
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
• Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, NeoProfen)
o Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Oruvail)
o Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, Aleve)
• Narcotic pain medication:
o For moderate to severe pain
o For short term use only
• Relaxation techniques
The treatment of headache depends on the cause:
• Anxiety disorder treatment
• Brain tumor treatment
• Cluster headaches treatment
• Dehydration treatment
• Encephalitis treatment
• Epidural hematoma treatment
• Acute glaucoma treatment
• Hangover treatment
• Head injury treatment
• Heatstroke treatment
• Hydrocephalus treatment
• Hypertension treatment
• Influenza treatment
• Mastoiditis treatment
• Meningitis treatment
• Migraine headache treatment
• Sinusitis treatment
• Stroke treatment
• Subarachnoid hemorrhage treatment
• Subdural hematoma treatment
• Tension headache treatment