Contributed by: Nancy Dixit
Are you struggling with a sore head?
Let’s start with what exactly a headache is and how it generates.
This article explores some of the most common types of headaches, along with their causes.
What is a headache?
Headache or head pain sometimes can be difficult to describe, but some common symptoms include throbbing, squeezing, constant, unrelenting, or intermittent.
The location may be in one part of the face or skull or may be generalized involving the whole head.
Headaches may arise spontaneously or may be associated with activity or exercise. It may also have an acute onset or it may be chronic in nature with or without episodes of increasing severity.
Most people recover well from a headache within 24 hours.
There are two main categories of headaches:
This type of headache is the condition itself. It does not get triggered by something else like allergy or dehydration.
This headache is a symptom of something else that’s happening in your body. It can be relieved by treating the root cause of pain.
For example, high blood pressure, hormone changes, or withdrawal from caffeine can all trigger secondary headaches.
There are different types of head pain and diagnosing the specific cause of your headache can help you to get the right treatment.
It is the most common type of headache. Tension headaches usually start at the back of the head and are sometimes accompanied by an aching pain in the forehead, temples or at the back of the neck.
some people describe tension headaches as feeling as if they have a rubber band around their head or squeezing pain on both sides of the head.
Tension headaches can be caused by stress, eye strain, tiredness, bad posture or anxiety. This pain may last for 30 minutes to seven days.
Sinus headaches are caused by a build-up of pressure in the sinuses, often during or after a cold. Sinus headaches usually occur due to the inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis), which can happen due to an infection or an allergic reaction.
You’ll feel a deep and constant pain in your cheekbones, forehead, or the bridge of your nose.
This pain usually gets stronger when you move your head suddenly along with toothache or pain in the jaw when eating.
Cluster headaches are described as primary headaches, which arise from impairment in nerve function.
Although there are no known triggers for cluster headaches but, alcohol consumption can bring on an attack.
Cluster headaches usually come and go. You can get a few bouts a year, or twice a year or one every two years.
Surprisingly cluster headaches are more common in spring and in autumn.
It is characterized by severe, debilitating pain on either the right or the left side of the head, and is often accompanied by a watery eye, nasal congestion, or a runny nose on the same side of the face.
Rebound headache occurs due to overuse of painkillers for headache or irrational use of any other prescription medicine.
Another reason for rebound headache may be the withdrawal effect of any medicine as its levels fall in the bloodstream.
It is characterized by symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, irritability, depression, or sleeping problems.
Migraine is often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Migraine headaches aren’t the same in everyone and symptoms can vary from one person to other.
It affects the whole body and can result in many symptoms, including feeling sick, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light, sound or smell.
Criteria for migraine headache:
At least five previous episodes of the same type of headaches.Headaches that last between four hours to 72 hours.Having at least one associated feature: nausea and/or vomiting, or, if those are not present, then sensitivity to light and sound
A few triggers for migraines may include emotional or physical stress, certain foods, changing sleep patterns, missing meals, hormonal changes, and environmental factors such as loud noise and bright lights.
Did you know migraine headaches are three times as common in women as men, though they can affect anyone?
If you are a coffee lover and abruptly stop the intake of caffeine, it may cause a caffeine headache as a caffeine withdrawal effect and is characterized by a throbbing headache.
As per research, a caffeine headache may begin about 12 hours after your last cup of coffee and continue for two to 9 days.
If you are suffering from a caffeine withdrawal headache, then over-the-counter painkiller medicine can help and try to keep yourself hydrated. It will help to reduce the caffeine withdrawal headache.
Strenuous physical exercise along with running, jumping, weight lifting, sexual intercourse, etc. are a few triggers that can lead to an exertional headache. They are more common in hot weather and at high altitudes.
Note: If you experience the onset of a headache during exercise, it’s important to see a healthcare provider to rule out other causes.
Exertional headaches are usually very short-lived but can sometimes last up to 2 days.
Did you know exertional headaches are more common in those with a family history of migraine?
An orgasm headache is a type of primary headache that occurs during sexual activity. Orgasm headaches may result from a rapid expansion of blood vessels in the brain.
This occurs when a person’s blood pressure rises before and during orgasms.
You may notice a dull ache in the head and neck that builds up as sexual excitement increases.
If you experience such headaches during sex, you must speak to a doctor for an evaluation. The doctor may recommend you over-the-counter pain relievers.
For women, hormonal headaches often occur during periods due to hormonal fluctuations.
Hormone-related headaches may occur from oral contraceptives, menopause or pregnancy as a result of hormonal imbalance.
Even migraine may occur around menstruation due to changes in estrogen levels.
Menstrual headache often develops two days before or three days after a period or during ovulation.
The symptoms of this kind of headache are similar to migraine without aura, but they can last longer.
Headaches are the absolute worst but the only real way to get rid of the pain is knowing which type of headache you’re dealing with.
Headache symptoms can help you and your healthcare provider to determine which type of headache you’re experiencing.
Tip- Avoid unnecessary use of painkillers, without consulting a general physician, until the root cause of headache is diagnosed.
Headaches have a tendency to run in families, especially migraines. In fact, kids whose parents have migraines are up to four times more likely to develop them too.
In such a situation, you can carry out genetic testing to determine if you have specific genes that can put you at more risk of developing migraine.
As an add-on, make a habit of taking preventive health checkups as they can help you in getting a complete insight into your health.
This will also help you with taking measures to promote your overall well-being.