Muscle contraction, tension, and vascular changes cause 90% of headaches. Occasionally, however, a headache indicates an underlying intracranial, systemic, or psychological disorder. Throbbing, vascular headaches — migraine headaches — affect up to 10% of Americans. Migraines usually begin in childhood or adolescence and recur throughout adulthood. Migraine headaches tend to run in families and are more common in women than in men.
Causes of Headaches
Most chronic headaches result from muscle tension caused by:
• Emotional stress or fatigue
• Environmental stimuli (noise, crowds, bright lights).
Other possible causes include:
• Inflammation of the eyes or of the nasal or paranasal sinus mucosa
• Diseases of the scalp, teeth, extracranial arteries, or external or middle ear
• Vasodilators (nitrates, alcohol, histamine)
• Systemic disease
• Head trauma or tumor
• Intracranial bleeding, abscess, or aneurysm.