Headaches are one of the most common health complaints in the UK.
With over 10 million people experiencing symptoms regularly.
If you suffer from regular headaches, it can have an impact on your quality of life.
When people experience headaches for the first time, or a more severe headache than they are used to, it’s natural to be concerned that this may represent something serious. Establishing whether or not there is an underlying cause for your headaches is often the first step to treatment and recovery
There are several different types of headaches including:
Migraines are one of the most common causes of primary headache occurring in 10% – 15% of the UK adult population.
Migraines are usually characterised by a severe pain, throbbing on one or both sides of the head, nausea and sickness, sensitivity to light, noise and smell, and made worse by movement. Migraines can last from hours, up to several days in duration. A so-called ‘aura’ may precede the headache, and may be visual consisting of spots, zigzag lines, coloured lights or tingling of the face or limbs.
This is another common primary headache which can be difficult to treat. Unlike migraine, it is not associated with other prominent symptoms like nausea or intolerance to bright light. The pain is often described as a pressure or tightness around the head. The headache may last for many hours and may not respond to usual painkillers. Sometimes they can become chronic and occur on a daily basis for weeks or even months at a time.
This condition may occur in people who take too much medication to treat their headache. The problem can start when patients pre-empt their headache and take tablets to try and stop the attack. This is usually ineffective so sufferers take more painkillers for respite – the vicious circle begins.
This type of headache is less common. Caused by an underlying structural problem in the head or neck, they can often be successfully treated when diagnosed early. There are numerous causes for this type of headache including arthritis in the neck, problems with inflammation or damage to blood vessels; rarely they can be caused by pathology such as tumours. An important part of your consultation will be to exclude any serious underlying cause.
If you suffer from headaches, you will be looked after by a consultant neurologist.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
The treatment very much depends on the diagnosis. Once the cause of the headache has been determined, your consultant will be able to prepare a treatment plan. Treatment options may include:
Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way. After treatment for your headache, a follow up appointment may be required and ongoing monitoring / treatment may be recommended.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.