May 18: COVER STORY
- Posted by CERC India
- Posted in may-18
Know the headache types and how to get rid of them
Adopt healthy habits to prevent headaches
All of us have experienced that unrelenting throb in the head that makes us want to scream. Headaches are among the most common health problems. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimatesÂ that up to 4% of all adults are affected by an aching head on 15 or more days every month.
The pain comes from a mix of signals between your brain,Â bloodÂ vessels and nearby nerves. The cause could be as simple as poor sleep or could be as serious as a stroke. Headaches are not just painful, they are worrisome because it is not always easy to find the root cause. It is important to diagnose the exact type of headache for proper treatment.
Headaches can be classified into three main types â€“ primary headaches, secondary headaches and cranial neuralgias. Primary headaches occur when the pain in your headÂ isÂ the condition. Secondary headaches are a symptom of something else that is going on in your body. Cranial neuralgia (nerve pain) is caused by inflammation of one ofÂ the 12 cranial nerves coming from the brain. Perhaps the most commonly recognized example isÂ trigeminalÂ neuralgia that can cause intense facial pain.
There are three kinds of primary headachesâ€“ tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines.
Tension headaches: They are the most common type of primary headache and are triggered by stress. You may feel a dull, aching sensation all over your head. An over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever may be required.
Migraines: If the pain is located only on one side of your head, it is likely to be a migraine. You may have nausea, vomiting, light and sound sensitivity and even visual disturbances like seeing flashing lights. Resting in a dark room brings relief. Your doctor might prescribe triptans – drugs that decrease inflammation and change the flow of blood within your brain. Migraines tend to run in families.
Cluster headaches: If it feels like something is poking you hard behind the eye, it may be a cluster headache. Itâ€™s the least common but the most severe type of headache. Other symptoms include redness and tearing of an eye and droopiness of eyelid. These headaches occur in groups. Most people experience one to four headaches a day. Each may last from 15 minutes to three hours. A cold compress may help. Your doctor may recommend high-flow oxygen treatment (where you inhale oxygen from a face mask).
There are several types of secondary headaches based on different primary causes.Treating the primary cause generally brings relief.
Allergies: They are seasonal and you will have other symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Treatment includes avoiding the allergy trigger, antihistamines and decongestants.
Sinus infections: They cause pain and pressure in the eyes, teeth, nose, cheeks and forehead and accompany a viral or bacterial infection. If it is the latter, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics in addition to nasal decongestant sprays.
Hormonal changes: WomenÂ experienceÂ headaches linked toÂ hormonal fluctuations due to menstruation, menopause, birth control pills or pregnancy. Relaxation techniques,Â yoga and a modified diet may help in prevention.
Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that affects blood flow to your brain. Having too much can give you a headache, as can quitting caffeine suddenly.
Exertion: Exertion headaches happen after periods ofÂ intense physical activity which increase blood flow to the skull. Weight lifting, running and sexual intercourse are all common triggers. This type of headache usually resolves in a shortÂ time.
Hypertension: A hypertension headache usually occurs on both sides of your head, gets worse with activity and has a pulsating quality. It requires immediate attention.
Medication overuse: Also called rebound headaches, they are caused by frequent use of OTC pain relievers. The only treatment is to wean yourself off the medication.
Air travel: Airplane headaches, which usually occur on one side of the head, are set off by changes in pressure during flights. Keep an OTCÂ pain reliever handy if you are prone to have this type of headache.
Secondary headaches could also be because of a ear infection, depression, weather changes or a particular type of lighting.
A thunderclap headache manifests as a sudden pain anywhere in your head. It feels like a lightning strike inside your head. Such headaches are intense and last at least five minutes. If you experience one, get in touch with your doctor or go to the emergency room of a hospital at once. They can be caused by life-threatening conditions like a brain aneurysm, stroke, or a brain hemorrhage.
When to seek medical attention
Seek immediate medical care if the headache is accompanied by the following: fever of 100.4Â°F or higher, stiff neck, rash, weakness or change in sensation in any part of the body, change in vision, vomiting, confusion or slurred speech. Also, if you have a headache that lasts more than two days or that increases in intensity, see your doctor for assistance.
Tips to prevent headaches
- Stay hydrated
- Donâ€™t skip meals
- Lose weight
- Catch regular sleep
- Check your medications
- Avoid being out in the heat
- Limit screen time
- Reduce consumption of salt
- Avoid bright lights, loud noises and strong fragrances
Sources: www.rd.com,www.healthline.com, www.webmd.com, time.com