Headaches are considered to be common problems experienced by many people these days. However, despite their commonness, headaches must always be handled seriously and should never be taken for granted since it can be a symptom or a result of an underlying medical cause or problem, which can be more serious or complicated. Aside from this, headaches are also classified into different types. Most of us think that all headaches are similar to each other; nevertheless, these conditions show different characteristics and are also effects of different factors. So what type of head ache do I have?
Different Types of Headaches
These days, millions of people worldwide suffer from headaches every day. What is even more unfortunate is that most of these conditions are misdiagnosed and are treated inaccurately and improperly. Most of us usually confuse one headache symptom to the symptom of another type of headache. This is the reason why it is very important for us to distinguish the different kinds of headaches in order for us to assess our conditions properly and provide appropriate management to our current health situation. Below are some of the common types of headaches.
• Migraine – Migraine is a type of headache that affects roughly 28 million Americans. Women are experience these types of headaches three times more often than men do. Migraine is described as the throbbing of pain on one side of the head. However, approximately 40% of people who suffer migraine experience pain on both sides. Migraines are considered to be extremely painful. It can last up to 72 hours once it is left untreated. Migraine differs from other types of headaches because it includes sensitivity to light and sound and can also cause episodes of nausea and vomiting.
Migraine can be triggered by a lot of factors. Some of these include the high intake of caffeine, MSG or monosodium glutamate, aspartame (artificial sweetener), nitrates found in most processed foods, red wine, high humidity, changes in barometric pressure, medications like birth control pills, skipping meals, menstrual periods and the lack of sleep. Other risk factors of migraine include head trauma, obesity, snoring, stress and excessive caffeine use.
If suffering from migraine, allodynia must be observed. This is a type of condition where there is a sudden shift in the mood that is exhibited by becoming unusually intolerable of things that are normally found comfortable. Rebound headaches are also possible, which is a result from the chronic use of pain medications in treating migraine. There are a number of things that can be used in order to treat migraine; this includes triptans, beta blockers or calcium channel blockers, biofeedback, botox, antiepileptic drugs and tricyclic antidepressants.
• Cluster Headaches – Cluster headaches is another type of headache but is considered the least common of all. 90% of sufferers of cluster headaches are male. This type of headache can last for weeks or even months and can be followed by a remission period. The remission period is expected to last for several months or even years. Cluster headaches occur only always on one side of the head, which never switch sides. This type of headache is divided into two forms, the episodic and the chronic pattern. The latter is considered the common among the two and can occur up to 8 times in one day. The former is random and is usually triggered only after a stressful event. The cluster headache is known as the “suicide headache” because of its intensity and severe pain. People with this kind of headache are also often agitated and restless.
There are also some triggering factors that can lead to cluster headaches. These factors include heavy smoking and alcohol drinking. This can also cause eye tearing on the side of the head pain, eye redness, runny nose, drooping of the eyelid, nasal congestion and decreasing pupil. Just like migraine, cluster headaches can also be treated with calcium channel blockers. Sumatriptans are also being used as an injectable or nasal spray and oxygen therapy is likewise reliable as well as steroid for transitional treatment.
• Tension Headaches – this type of headache is related to the tightening of the muscles at the back of the neck or the scalp. This is characterized as mild to moderate in nature and can affect both sides of the head and is considered the most common type of headaches for American adults. This type of headache is similar to the sensation of having a tight band wrapped around the head. However, this headache is not sensitive to light and sound instead it is triggered by stress, fatigue, anger or anxiety. Once this headache is experienced frequently, it is important to consult the doctor to immediately determine the underlying cause.
Tension headaches are usually treated with over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen such as Advil, Nuprin and Motrin. Naproxen sodium like Aleve and Flanax can also be utilized according to the National Headache Foundation. Some anti depressant medications can even be used as well as the biofeedback technique.
• Sinus Headache – Sinus headache is another type of headache that is accompanied by facial pain specifically above the cheeks and under the eyelids. Children with this kind of headache also show signs of tooth pain. Sinus headache is usually triggered by allergies, which is why if this kind of headache is being experienced frequently, then allergy testing or allergy shots is already recommended. This type of headache can also be accompanied by fever as well as the presence or the production of green or yellowish nasal discharges. This can be indicative of an infection. If it is, then the sinus headache can be treated with antibiotics in order to treat the bacterial infection first, which will eventually help remove the head pain. Nasal steroids and nasal sprays are also used with nasal saline spray. Nevertheless is the head ache is mild and short term, OTC analgesic drugs can be used as treatment such as acetaminophen in order to cure or relive the pain.
These are the different types of headaches that we should all be aware of so as to provide proper and immediate management or treatment to the condition.