Headache can be defined as the sensation of pain anywhere in the head region which might be the result of a medical disorder, such as migraine or high blood pressure, anxiety or depression or physical stress, such as incorrect eyeglass prescription, loud noise exposure, lack of sleep, etc.
Headaches are of different types and it can last for hours or a day but in some severe cases it holds on for days or even longer duration.
On the basis of the sources of pain, headaches are classified as:
These types of headaches are caused as a result of physical or mental overactivity or problems related to pain-sensitive structures in your head but the primary headache isn't a symptom of diseases that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves.
The most common types of primary headaches are:
It is a kind of neurological condition which causes a severe pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. These headaches can affect children as well as adults.
It has been found that migraines affect both boys and girls equally before puberty but affects more women than men after puberty.
Migraine can progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome but not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.
Prodrome: This is the earliest stage which occurs one or two days before the migraine whose common symptoms are:
- Frequent yawning,
- Neck stiffness,
- Mood changes, from depression to euphoria
Aura: Auras are reversible symptoms of the nervous system which might occur before or after a migraine
- Vision loss
- Pins and Needles sensations in an arms or legs
- Weakness or numbness in either side of the face or the body.
- Difficulty in speaking
- Hearing noises or music
Attack: Migraine occurrence varies from person to person but in general, it lasts for 4 to 72 hours. You might face symptoms like:
- The pain on one side of your head, but often on both sides
- Pain that throbs or pulses
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
- Nausea and vomiting
Post-drome: During this phase, there are usually changes in mood and feelings. You might feel drained out and sometimes the sudden head movement might bring back the pain.
Cure of migraine usually depends upon how frequently they occur. Medication needed
to cure migraine depends upon over the counter(OTC) medicines like:
- Ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen Sodium(Aleve)
(ii) Cluster headaches:
These primary headaches occur in a series and last from 15 minutes to three hours. They occur around or behind one eye or on one side of the face at a time. Sometimes swelling, redness, flushing, and sweating can occur on the side affected by the headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s. Usually, such headaches occur one or more times a day usually around the same time each day, making a cluster.
Doctors aren’t sure about the cause of cluster headaches, but they do know some effective ways to treat the symptoms. Your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy, sumatriptan*(Imitrex) or local anesthetic (lidocaine) to provide pain relief.
Headaches that are caused due to diseases or infections and consequently activates the pain-sensitive nerves come under secondary headaches.
Here are some common types of secondary headaches:
(iii) Allergic and Sinus Headache:
Sinus headaches are a reaction to the sinus infection, You may feel pressure around your eyes, cheeks, forehead, and head throbs.
The main signs include:
- Facial pain or pressure
- "Stuffed-up" nose
- Loss of smell
- Cough or congestion
You may also have:
- Bad breath
- Dental pain
Also Read: Why Do I Experience A Persistent Headache?
(iv) Hormone Headache:
This kind of headache is caused due to hormonal fluctuations and is commonly found in women. Menstruation, birth control pills, and pregnancy all affect your estrogen levels, which can cause a headache.
Symptoms of hormonal headache are:
- loss of appetite.
- joint pain.
- decreased urination.
- lack of coordination.
- cravings for alcohol, salt, or chocolate.
Medications like OTC pain relievers such as Naproxen(Aleve) or Frovatriptan(Frova) can work to control this pain.
Apart from these medicines, physical activities like yoga, acupuncture, and a modified diet can help in preventing such headaches.
(v) Caffeine headaches:
Caffeine affects our blood flow rate to our brains. Having too much caffeine and quitting it can result in a headache. Not everyone who cuts back on caffeine will experience a withdrawal headache. Keeping your caffeine level moderate can prevent headaches. When you are used to a certain amount of caffeine intake each day, it can lead to headaches if you don’t keep your caffeine intake fixed because caffeine changes your brain chemistry, and withdrawal from it can trigger a headache.
(vi) Exertion headaches:
Exertion headaches are caused due to intense physical activity. Weight lifting, running, and sexual intercourse are all common triggers for an exertion headache. These headaches don’t last long and usually resolve within a few minutes or hours.
Analgesics, such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen(Advil) may ease your symptoms.
(vii) Hypertension headache:
Hypertension itself means high blood pressure, therefore headache caused due to dangerously high blood pressure is called hypertension headache. Such a headache occurs on both sides of the head and gets worse with activity. You may also experience changes in vision, numbness or tingling, nosebleeds, chest pain, or shortness of breath. If you are experiencing such headaches you should seek immediate medical attention. These headaches do not occur again until the blood pressure becomes high.
(viii) Rebound Headaches:
It is also known as medication overuse headache which occurs due to overuse of certain OTC medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and medicines contain caffeine for a period of 15 days out of a month.
The only way to get rid of this type of headache is to stop taking OTC medicines you have been taking to control pain. Although at first, the pain may get worse and to take a
protective daily medicine which will prevent rebound headaches.
Post-traumatic type of headaches are caused when a person gets an injury on his head that leads to deeply disturbing and distressing kind of headaches.
Such chronic headaches can last for 6-12 hours and can be resolved by Triptans, Sumatriptan(Imitrex), Beta-Blockers, and Amitriptyline
(x) Hangover headaches:
Consuming too much alcohol can lead to a resonating kind of headache the next morning. Such headaches occur on both sides of the head and increase with the increase in body movement.
The hangover can be resolved by drinking plenty of water and eating sugary food, taking OTC medication can also help in reducing such headaches.
Tags: Headache treatment, Hypertension headaches, What causes a headache
Henry holds a diploma in Linguistics and is fluent in both, written and verbal Spanish. He is an avid reader and loves to stay updated about the healthcare industry. If you are reading about any major breakthrough in the medical field, know that Henry is the one who brought it to you.