Headache is an illness caused by over activity of, or problems with, structures in the head that are sensitive of pain.
Did you know?
That there is an organization which advocates the welfare of headache sufferers? National Headache Foundation(1) has categorized headache as a neurobiological disease. With their 45 years of further research and awareness, and with the aid from advanced technology and clinical innovation, there are more treatment options.
But, you don’t have to worry that much!
Almost each of us had experience with headaches, this is the most common pain felt and most common reason why people are absent from their work or school. Not all headaches require the attention of a doctor, however, headaches can also mean that there is a more serious disorder.
You start to worry that it might mean something more.
Let your health care provider know if you experience sudden, and severe headache and fever. Seek out medical assistance if you experience a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache with a stiff neck; fever; confusion; loss of consciousness; or pain in the eyes or ears.
When your headaches occur, write down the accompanying symptoms and any potential triggers. The physician may suggest you to keep a headache diary to help diagnose the type of headache you are experiencing.
You might need an immediate assessment when you are experiencing the worst headache of your life, or if you experience unexplained symptoms (i.e. weakness, numbness or tingling, imbalance, or falling). There are life-threatening situations that have uncommon symptoms, Intracerebral bleeding and brain aneurysm may included in this.
Understanding a Headache
As common headaches can be, most people do not realize that it can be more complicated. There are different types of headaches that have their own symptoms, their own triggers, and their own treatments. Once you know the type of headache, you can easily prevent or treat them. There are 150 different types of headaches.
Yes, you read it right!
150! But we will only discuss the most common type of headaches. This will include 5 of the most common, the location of each and the meaning when it comes to location.
5 Common Types of Headaches and Symptoms of Each
Tension headache is a pressure or tight sensation, it is felt with mild to moderate pain. There are no specific symptoms associated with this type of headache, however patients claim that they are tight or noise sensitive.
Migraine headache is commonly unilateral or one-sided. It is often described as throbbing or pulsing pain, it worsens with physical activity. Nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, or smell are the associated symptoms of migraine.
Cluster headache causes stabbing or piercing pain, pain is one-sided during cluster attack. Watering of the eye and nasal congestion on the side of the headache are one of the associated symptoms of cluster headaches. It is frequently triggered by alcohol consumption.
Sinus headache is a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. It happens when the sinuses are inflamed, a yellow or green nasal discharge is evident. Sinus headaches have associated symptoms of runny nose, feeling of fullness in the ears, fever, and swelling in the face.
Headaches can be a widespread burden to our health and our overall quality of life, it may occur in regular episodes in which a person experiences severe pain, vomiting, nausea, or sensitivity to light or sound.
Anything, or anyone can increase your stress level and can make you vulnerable to headaches. The exact cause of a headache is not yet fully understood, however physicians and healthcare providers do know that there are many triggering factors that can induce a headache. It is wise to have a headache diary to identify or eliminate the particular trigger that can cause you to have a headache.
Here are the common headache triggers:
Sleep disturbance is one of the most commonly linked triggers to headache. Insufficient and excessive sleep can result in a headache.
Weekend headaches, the tension of the whole week subsides. The level of stress hormones subsides which causes a rapid production of neurotransmitter. The impulses sent out constricts and dilates the blood vessels resulting in a headache.
Caffeine, excessive consumption of food and beverages with caffeine can contribute to the onset of a headache. Gradually cut down your caffeine consumption. As you can see excessive caffeine can cause a caffeine headache.
Hormonal changes can trigger headaches, it usually starts during the reproductive years. Hence, headaches and migraines are linked to the woman’s menstrual cycle.
Environmental changes can boost certain chemicals in the brain causing it to activate the migraine center. Environmental issues such as high altitude, weather changes, high humidity, loud noises, exposure to glare, or flickering lights can heighten the sensitivity.
Food, the craving of a particular food is considered to be a symptom of the beginning of a headache. Skipping meals and eating high-glucose and high-caffeine foods can trigger a headache. Eating small nutritious foods at a regular interval can help control headaches.
Alcohol is one of the most reported triggers for a headache.
Dehydration or hunger is frequently linked to the onset of a headache. Although it is uncertain for the physicians on how this happens, but they linked it to the decrease of blood glucose levels.
Symptoms and triggers of headache/migraine may help manage headache episodes. A discussion with your healthcare provider may help you decide on what effective headache treatment options to use for your case.
Types of Headaches By Location and What They Mean
Headaches refer to different locations of discomfort or pain in the head. Generalized, a headache is pain felt on the entire head, patients describe this headache as halo type around the head or a band running around the head. There are some cases that the exact location of the headache is difficult to identify.
But, how about the other locations of the headaches, what do they mean? The following are types of headaches by location and there meaning, you should find this helpful.
Front of the head (Frontal headache):
- Tension headache
- Eye strain
- Migraine pain location or cluster, if the pain is one-sided
- Sinus headache, inflammation of the lining of one of the sinus cavities. This headache can cause a deep, dull, and chronic ache around the eyes, nose, and head.
- Dehydration headache
- Headaches accompanied by stomach, kidney, intestinal and gallbladder ailments. Headache caused by digestive problems is sometimes associated with overindulgence of alcohol, food sensitivities, and food additives.
- Anxiety headache crosses the forehead
Temporal (or side of the head):
- Tension headache
- Ice-pick headache, causes a repeated sharp pain at the side of the head.
- Cervicogenic headache, causes pain in the back of the head, stems from the joints at the top of the neck.
Back of the head (Occipital):
- Cervicogenic headache
- Tension headache
- Dehydration headache, occurs at the front, back, one side of the head, or throughout the entire head. Bending the head down or moving it from side to side can worsen the pain.
Middle or Top of the head:
- Tension headache
- Ice-pick headache
- Cough headache,
- Exertion headache, is caused during or after a sustained, strenuous exercise. Strenuous physical activities associated with exercise headaches are running, rowing, tennis, swimming, and weightlifting.
- Coital (intercourse) headache, is also called a “sexual headache”. It occurs at the base of the skull before orgasm and during sexual activity.
One side of the head:
Behind or around the eyes:
- Cluster headache
- Chronic paroxysmal headache, also known as Sjaastad syndrome is a unique headache. It is a severe debilitating headache that affects around the eye.
- SUNCT (Short-lasting, Unilateral, Neuralgiform headache attacks with Conjunctival Injection and Testing) is a primary headache disorder characterized by unilateral pain in the trigeminal nerve distribution and by autonomic manifestations.
Headache Prevention, Treatment and Solutions
There are a number of different triggers that can be the causes of headaches. Take care of yourself, this can help ease chronic headaches.
It is not just that!
Preventing future headaches from occurring may reduce its intensity and duration.
Avoid headache triggers. Keep a headache diary that can help you determine what triggers your headache.
Avoid overuse of medication. Do not depend on the medication, taking headache medications more than twice a week can increase the severity and frequency of the headache. Consult a physician before taking medications, there can be serious side effects.
Get adequate sleep and rest. Seven to eight hours of sleep a day is needed. Go to bed and wake up early.
Do not skip meals. Eat healthy and nutritious meals at the exact time. Avoid food or beverage that are high in caffeine.
Exercise regularly. Regular physical aerobic activity can improve the physical and mental well-being of a person. Choose activities that are not strenuous and those you enjoy. Take everything slowly to avoid injury.
Reduce stress. Try techniques that can reduce stress, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Stress is a common trigger of headache. To prevent headaches, plan ahead. Simplify your schedule and organize it. Stay positive.
Reduce caffeine. Although some treatments with headaches include caffeine because of its benefits in reducing headache pain, it can also aggravate headaches. To prevent headaches, minimize or eliminate caffeine from your diet.
Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of fluids can help the electrolytes balance. This can help accommodate changes in vessel dilation and blood pressure.
Best Headache Treatment
How can you beat your headache?
The prior step in treating your headache is to determine the type of headache you are experiencing. Sometimes, headache is a symptom of another disease or condition. Headache management is a difficult challenge— a number of treatment options, treatment preparations, and methods of administration may have to be tried to determine what treatment best works for you. There are medications given when there is an onset of headache (acute treatment) and other medications are given daily to reduce the frequency of attacks (prophylactic treatment).
Do not overuse medications! It can lead to chronic daily headache, medicines that contain ergotamine, caffeine, and codeine can alleviate headache. However, frequent use of these medications can lead to daily headache. The reason why it is important to consult your doctor.
But wait—there’s more!
Pharmacologic therapies are not the only way to get someone to find out how to rid of a headache. Although, not all of these options work for you or are available to everyone, releasing tension can ease the pressure in your head.
Acupuncture stimulates the acupoints, it can ease the pain by stimulating the production of endorphins or the natural painkiller of the body.
Chiropractic therapy is a manual technique that adjusts the misalignment of the vertebral column. The misalignment of the vertebral column can cause pressure to the muscles and blood vessels.
Hydrotherapy uses cold and hot water to stimulate circulation. Alternating hot and cold shower helps the blood vessels dilate and then constrict. This method can alter the body’s interpretation to pain.
Massage can reduce the muscle tension throughout the body.
Relaxation techniques reduces pressure in the body and the level of stress chemicals in the brain.
Yoga can relieve muscle tension in the back of the neck and correct posture.
Headache is the most common disorder, most of the physicians do not further assess headaches, and can be diagnosed and effectively treated by a general practitioner. Only secondary headaches require an assessment of a specialist, it needs prompt attention or hospital referrals. Changes in headaches based on position of the body is important to note, headache locations, pain characteristic, associated symptoms, heightened sensitivity, pain triggers, and pain alleviation should also be noted.
When you are one of the millions of people who experience frequent or occasional headaches, it is important to determine your personal headache triggers and do your best to prevent it. Do not overuse or abuse any pharmacologic treatment for headaches, the misuse of medication can lead to increased headache attacks and chronic headache symptoms.
Although there is no absolute cure for headaches, there are numerous of headache treatment options to choose from, both pharmacological and complementary therapies. However, always consult a medical practitioner prior to undergoing any of the treatment options.
Headache is a condition that may develop over time, and early treatment is key to prevent rebound headache is needed. Health education should also be one a focus of headache treatment options as headaches and migraines are not susceptible to cure and often require numerous treatment strategies.