A headache (or cephalgia) is a pain in the head, somewhere above the eyes or ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck.
Headaches are experienced by nearly everyone at some time or another. While headaches can sometimes indicate a serious underlying illness, the most troubling aspect of headaches is often the discomfort and impaired quality of life associated with their occurance. This pain can run the gammut from a mild, temporary annoyance to a severe, incapacitating problem.
Two classification of headache exist: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not associated with other diseases. Examples of primary headaches include migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches result from another disease. These can result from any number of conditions, from life threatening maladies (such as brain tumors, strokes, meningitis, and subarachnoid hemorrhages) to less serious conditions (such as caffeine withdrawal or the discontinuation of analgesic medications). Many also suffer from "mixed" headache disorders, in which a tension headache or secondary headache triggers a migraine.
Studies show that during his or her lifetime, an American has a better than 70% chance of suffering headache pain severe enough to seek help from a medical professional. A number of people will experience chronic headaches on a daily (or near daily) basis, headaches which significantly impact the quality of their life and the lives of those closest to them. As a result, one important goal when addressing headache pain is the introduction of a regimen tailored to effectively reduce the frequency and severity of their occurance.