Tension headache is the most frequent primary headache, with a lifetime prevalence ranging from 30 to 78%. This type of headache is characterized by recurrent episodes of relatively mild pain, with few or no associated features. Other primary headaches, although less common, have distinct characteristics such as an unusual duration or pain related to a certain activity. Cluster headaches are a neurological problem that causes periodic episodes of intense pain.
This type of headache is one of the most painful and usually appears in cyclical patterns. People affected by cluster headaches will experience frequent episodes followed by a period of complete relief. Headache can also be caused by a wide range of other conditions, the most common being medication overuse headache. The most important aspect of headache diagnosis is the patient's history (Table).
Most patients, including those with secondary headaches, have no signs and research is rarely needed to exclude a secondary headache. Migraines and tension headaches account for the vast majority (95%) of primary or secondary care headaches. Migraine, tension headache and drug overuse headache are important public health issues due to their high levels of disability and ill health in the population. Headache is an extremely common symptom and overall headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system, with a prevalence of 48.9% in the general population.
These types of headache share many common signs and symptoms, so it is essential to have a clear understanding of each one in order to avoid delays in diagnosis and inadequate or ineffective treatment. These are a specific subtype of primary headache disorders characterized by headaches that are short-lived, strictly one-sided and accompanied by autonomic features such as lacrimation, rhinorrhea, conjunctival injection and ptosis.