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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

Neurology Patient Pages
AAN Press Releases
Obesity May Be Associated with Even Occasional Migraines 09.11.2013
Migraine May Permanently Change Brain Structure 08.28.2013
Does Migraine Affect Income or Income Affect Migraine? 08.28.2013
Migraine and Depression Together May Be Linked with Brain Size 05.22.2013
Can Nerve Stimulation Help Prevent Migraine? 02.06.2013
Migraine Triggers May Not Be As Strong As You Think 01.23.2013
Migraine with Aura May Lead to Heart Attack, Blood Clots for Women 01.15.2013
Migraine in Children May Affect School Performance 10.29.2012
New Guidelines: Treatments Can Help Prevent Migraine 04.23.2012
Migraine Linked to Increased Risk of Depression in Women 02.22.2012
Mother’s Migraine May Increase Baby’s Risk of Colic 02.20.2012
Study: Giving Aspirin via IV Is Safe and Effective for Severe Headache 09.20.2010
Headaches in Teens Tied to Overweight, Smoking and Lack of Exercise 08.18.2010
Study: People With No Health Insurance Get Substandard Migraine Care 04.12.2010
Migraine More Common in Women with MS 02.16.2010
Headache May Linger Years Later in People Exposed to World Trade Center Dust, Fumes 02.10.2010
Migraine May Be Linked to Heart Disease 02.10.2010
Can Children Outgrow Chronic Daily Headache? 07.15.2009
Does Air Pollution or Weather Trigger Headaches? 03.09.2009
Botulinum Toxin Effective in Many Neurological Disorders, not Headache 05.05.2008
New Treatment Effective for Most Severe Kind of Headache 08.27.2007
Drug for Cluster Headaches May Cause Heart Problems 08.13.2007
Mid-Life Headaches May Increase Risk of Vision Problems 05.14.2007
Ann Arbor Neurologist to be Honored for Headache Research with Wolff-Graham Award 03.23.2006
Obesity Linked to Risk of Severe Headaches 04.14.2005
Understanding of Headaches Improves with Revised Criteria 08.09.2004
Migraines Far More Likely to Occur around Menstruation, Medication May Prevent More than Half 07.26.2004
Snoring Linked to Headaches 04.21.2003
Experts Outline Reasons Why Headache Treatment Fails 04.07.2003
Researchers Say Electronic Diaries Help Migraine Sufferers Learn to Predict Headache Onset 03.24.2003
Gluten in the Diet May Be the Cause of Recurring Headaches 02.12.2001

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Headache

There are four types of headache:  vascular, muscle contraction (tension), traction, and inflammatory.  The most common type of vascular headache is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision.   Women are more likely than men to have migraine headaches.    After migraine, the most common type of vascular headache is the toxic headache produced by fever.  Other kinds of vascular headaches include "cluster” headaches, which cause repeated episodes of intense pain, and headaches resulting from high blood pressure.  Muscle contraction headaches appear to involve the tightening or tensing of facial and neck muscles.  Traction and inflammatory headaches are symptoms of other disorders, ranging from stroke to sinus infection.  Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious disorders. This is particularly true for headaches caused by inflammation, including those related to meningitis as well as those resulting from diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears, and teeth.

Treatment

When headaches occur three or more times a month, preventive treatment is usually recommended.  Drug therapy, biofeedback training, stress reduction, and elimination of certain foods from the diet are the most common methods of preventing and controlling migraine and other vascular headaches. Regular exercise, such as swimming or vigorous walking, can also reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.  Drug therapy for migraine is often combined with biofeedback and relaxation training.  One of the most commonly used drugs for the relief of migraine symptoms is sumatriptan.  Drugs used to prevent migraine also include methysergide maleate, which counteracts blood vessel constriction; propranolol hydrochloride, which also reduces the frequency and severity of migraine headaches; ergotamine tartrate, a vasoconstrictor that helps counteract the painful dilation stage of the headache; amitriptyline, an antidepressant; valproic acid, an anticonvulsant; and verapamil, a calcium channel blocker.

Prognosis

Not all headaches require medical attention. But some types of headache are signals of more serious disorders and call for prompt medical care. These include: sudden, severe headache or sudden headache associated with a stiff neck; headaches associated with fever, convulsions, or accompanied by confusion or loss of consciousness; headaches following a blow to the head, or associated with pain in the eye or ear; persistent headache in a person who was previously headache free; and recurring headache in children.  Migraine headaches may last a day or more and can strike as often as several times a week or as rarely as once every few years.

Research

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research relating to headaches at its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.  NINDS also supports and conducts studies to improve the diagnosis of headaches and to find ways to prevent them. 

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Read additional information from Medline Plus.

Organizations

National Headache Foundation

Non-profit organization dedicated to service headache sufferers, their families, and the healthcare practitioners who treat them. Promotes research into headache causes and treatments and educates the public.

820 N. Orleans
Suite 411
Chicago, IL 60610-3132
Tel: 312-274-2650 888-NHF-5552 (643-5552)
Fax: 312-640-9049

American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education (ACHE)

The American Headache Society Committee on Headache Education (ACHE) is a nonprofit patient-health professional partnership dedicated to advancing the treatment and management of patients with headache.

19 Mantua Road
Mt. Royal, NJ 08061
Tel: 856-423-0043
Fax: 856-423-0082

Migraine Research Foundation

Assists migraine sufferers by providing information and support and by raising money to fund innovative research into its causes and better treatments.

300 East 75th Street
Suite 3K
New York, NY 10021
Tel: 212-249-5402
Fax: 212-249-5405

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