Headache is pain in any region of the head which may occur on one or both sides of the head, be isolated in a particular location, or radiate from one point over the head† It may appear as a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation, or a dull ache† develop gradually or suddenly and can last from less than an hour to several days. Headaches can be more complicated than most people realize. Different types can have their own set of symptoms, occur for unique reasons, and require different treatments.
The pain you feel during a headache comes from a mix of signals between your brain, blood vessels, and nearby nerves. Specific nerves in the blood vessels and main muscles switch on and send pain signals to the brain. However, it is not clear how these signals are turned on in the first place. Common causes of headaches include:
These can be infections, colds and fever. Headaches are also common with conditions such as sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), a throat infection, or an ear infection. In some cases, a headache can be the result of a blow to the head or, in rare cases, a sign of a more serious medical problem.
Emotional stress and depression, as well as alcohol consumption, skipping meals, changes in sleep patterns, and taking too many medications. Other causes include neck or back strain due to poor posture.
Secondhand tobacco smoke, strong odors from household chemicals or perfumes, allergens and certain foods. Stress, pollution, noise, lighting and weather changes are other possible triggers.
Headaches, especially migraines, often run in families. Most children and teens (90%) with migraines have a strong positive family history. When both parents have a history of migraines, there is a 70% chance that their child will also have them. If only one parent has a history of these headaches, the risk drops to 25%-50%.
TYPES OF HEADACHE
There are more than 150 types of headaches, but the most common types include:
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in adults and teens. They cause mild to moderate pain and come and go over time. In the last part of this article, special emphasis is placed on tension headaches.
Migraine headaches are often described as throbbing and throbbing pain. They can last from 4 hours to 3 days and usually happen one to four times a month. In addition to the pain, people have other symptoms such as sensitivity to light, sound, or smell; nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; and stomach upset or abdominal pain. When a child has migraines† they may look pale, feel dizzy and have blurred vision, fever, including digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, or vomiting that occurs about once a month.
Cluster headaches are the most serious. One may have intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye. It can be throbbing or constant. The pain can be so bad that most people with cluster headaches cannot sit still and will often pace during an attack. On the pain side, the eyelid droops, the eye becomes red, the pupil shrinks, or the eye waters. The nostril on that side is bulging or clogged.
They are called cluster headaches because they usually occur in groups. You can get them one to three times a day during a cluster period, which can last from 2 weeks to 3 months. Each headache attack lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours. They can wake a person from sleep. The headache can disappear completely for months or years, only to come back later. Men are three to four times more likely to get them than women.
With sinus headaches, one can feel a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead or on the bridge of the nose. They occur when cavities in the head called sinuses become inflamed. The pain is usually accompanied by other sinus symptoms, such as a runny nose, fullness in the ears, fever, and a swollen face. A true sinus headache is the result of a sinus infection, so the discharge coming out of the nose will be yellow or green, unlike the clear discharge in cluster or migraine headaches.
The goal of managing sinus headaches is usually to relieve symptoms and treat an infection or any associated allergies. You may need to take antibiotics, antihistamines, or decongestants for a short time. One can also use inhaled nasal decongestants, but only for up to 3 days. Longer use can make symptoms worse. You may need to take pain relievers or corticosteroids to relieve inflammation in sinuses. You can also feel better with simple at-home tricks, such as drinking more, using a humidifier, or a saltwater nasal spray. It is also possible to relieve sinus pain and pressure using a device that emits microwave waveforms. In rare cases, sinus surgery may be recommended to remove polyps or open small or constantly swollen sinuses.
CHRONIC DAILY HEADACHE
One can have this type of headache for 15 days or more per month, lasting more than 3 months. Some are short. Others take more than 4 hours. It is usually one of four primary headaches†
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS HEADACHE
Post-traumatic stress headaches usually start 2-3 days after a head injury. One can feel a dull ache that gets worse from time to time† fear of heights† feeling light-headed† difficulty concentrating† memory problems† tiring quickly and irritability. Such headaches can last for several months. But if it doesn’t get better in a few weeks, it needs medical attention.
When a person is active, the muscles in the head, neck, and scalp require more blood, which causes the blood vessels to swell to supply it. The result is a pulsating pain on both sides of the head that can last from 5 minutes to 48 hours. It usually strikes while someone is active or just after† whether the activity is exercise or sex.
Hemicrania continua is a chronic, persistent headache that almost always affects the same side of your face and head. Symptoms include: pain that varies in severity; red or watery eyes; runny or stuffy nose; drooping eyelid; contracted iris; worse pain with physical activity; worse pain when drinking alcohol. Some people also notice migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting; sensitivity to light and sound.
Women can get headaches from shifting hormone levels during her period, pregnancy and menopause. The hormone changes from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also cause headaches.
One could also hear these headaches from overuse of drugs. If a person takes a prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days a month, they are preparing for more pain. When the drugs wear off, the pain comes back and you have to take more to stop it. This can cause a dull, constant headache that is often worse in the morning.
ICE PICK HEADACHE
This short, stabbing, severe headache usually lasts only a few seconds. They can occur at most a few times a day. Ice cream headaches can be a condition on their own, or they can be a symptom of something else.
One can get a headache after an epidural, an epidural or an epidural. It is called puncture headache because the above procedures involve puncturing the membrane surrounding the spinal cord. If spinal fluid leaks through the puncture site, it can cause a headache.
It comes on suddenly out of nowhere and peaks quickly. Causes of thunderclap headaches include:† rupture, rupture, or blockage of a blood vessel; head wound; hemorrhagic stroke due to a ruptured blood vessel in the brain; ischemic stroke of a blocked blood vessel in the brain; narrowed blood vessels around the brain; inflamed blood vessels; blood pressure changes in late pregnancy.
SPECIAL FOCUS ON TENSION HEADACHE
Tension headaches are dull pain, tightness, or pressure around the forehead or the back of the head and neck. Some people say it feels like a clamp squeezing their skull. They are also called stress headaches and they are the most common type for adults. There are usually two types: † episodic tension headache occurs less than 15 days per month; while chronic tension headaches occur more than 15 days a month. This headache can last from 30 minutes to several days. The episodic type usually starts slowly, often in the middle of the day. Chronic come and go over an extended period of time. The pain may get stronger or less over the course of the day, but it is almost always there.
However, tension headaches do not affect a person’s vision, balance, or strength. These usually start at the back of the head and spread forward, becoming a band of dull pressure or squeezing pain around the entire head, affecting both sides of the head equally; or make the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and jaw tight and sore. Symptoms of tension headaches include:† mild to moderate pain or pressure in the front, top, or sides of the head; headache that starts later in the day; Difficulty sleeping; feeling very tired; irritability; difficulty focusing; mild sensitivity to light or sound; muscle strain.
TENSION HEADACHE TRIGGERS: