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While headache is frequently regarded as a condition in its own right, it can often be a symptom of an underlying problem. For this reason, headaches are categorised as either primary or secondary:

Primary headaches are not associated with another medical condition. Examples include migraine, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches and headaches that have a definite trigger, such as those caused by a cold stimulus like eating an ice cream

Secondary headaches have an underlying cause, and they vary in severity. Causes may include the viruses responsible for colds, flu and Covid-19; sinusitis, and withdrawal from substances such as drugs and alcohol, which can trigger a hangover headache. Secondary headaches can also be caused by a bleed on the brain; injury to the head or neck; increased pressure within the skull because of hypertension or a brain tumour; an infection such as meningitis; a nerve problem such as trigeminal neuralgia, or acute glaucoma.

Headache is one of the most common reasons why people make an appointment with their GP. It is believed that around nine in every 10 headaches fall into the primary category, so this module will focus on how to help customers manage these with self care measures, when appropriate.