Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Headaches every now and then are a part of life. What is so serious about headache? Why should I pay attention to headache when it is so common? It’s just a headache? This is where we make the biggest mistake of ignoring headaches as nothing.
Headaches is one of the most common medical complain that usually goes unnoticed. A lot of factors can cause headaches. Sometimes frequent bouts of headaches can say a lot more about health that meets the eye. Headaches are much more complicated than we realise. It is best to know all about headaches and how to deal with them. A safer tomorrow starts with a well prepared today.
What Are Headaches?
Headache is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in the head, scalp area and can extend to the neck. Headcahes can be mild and severe, depending on the condition. Headaches can appear on one or both the sides of the head. Headaches do not happen to anyone irrespective of age or gender.
Types Of Headaches
Did you know that there are more than 150 types of headaches? Some of the main types of headaches are listed below.
The day to day tension or stress often leads to headache, referred to as a tension headache. It is the most common kinds of headache and the symptoms include:
- Feeling of a tightness around the head, which is caused due to the tightening of the muscle around the neck and scalp
- Experienced as a constant, dull ache on the both top and front sides of the head
- This type of pain spreads to or from the neck
- It mostly lasts for several minutes, but in certain cases can last for several hours
Headaches due to migraines are the most complex and severe ones. Migraines are associated with pulsating and throbbing ache on one side of the head. Other symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light, noise
- May experience sensory disturbance
These headaches may last from several hours to days. Immediate medical help in advised incase of migraine attacks.
Cluster headaches can occur several times in a day. Regular headaches for a period of weeks to a month. The symptoms of cluster headaches are:
- One-sided headache
- Severe headcahes
- Sharp, throbbing or burning sensation
- Typically experienced in or around the eye
These are the sudden, severe form of headache that can reach maximum intensity in less than a minute and last longer than 5 minutes. These headaches are usually linked with cases of life-threatening conditions like cerebral venous thrombosis, ruptured or an unruptured aneurysm, meningitis etc.
People who experience regular or continuous bouts of severe headaches needs immediate doctors attention.
Causes Of Headache
Pain experienced or headache is the result of mixed signals between brain, blood vessels and nearby nerves. It has been noted that specific nerves of the blood vessels and muscles of the head get switched on and send pain signals to the brain. There are various causes of headaches which are broadly classified into two categories:
Primary headaches are caused by the overactivity or problems with the pain-sensitive structures present in the head. The structures include blood vessels, muscles and nerves of the head and neck or can also be a result of various changes in the chemical activity of the brain. These headaches include:
- A cluster headache
- A tension headache
- A migraine
What could headache be a sign of? Secondary headaches are usually symptoms linked with other health conditions. Any condition that stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the brain; like:
- An alcohol-induced headache commonly referred to as a hangover
- Infection, cold, fever
- Stress and weather changes
- Blood clots
- Brain tumor
- Bleeding that could be in or around the brain
- Brain freeze; commonly referred as ice-cream headaches
- Carbon mono-oxide poisoning
- Teeth grinding, especially during the night
- Panic attacks
- Overuse of pain medication referred as a rebound headache
Diagnosis For Headache
Diagnosis of a headache can be done based on the basis of signs and symptoms. The diagnosis process includes a detailed description of the type of pain of pain, timings and the pattern of attacks. Proper testing is required to rule out any possible dangers. These tests include:
- Blood test
- Brain scans like CT, MRI
Treatment For Headache
Headaches are commonly treated by rest and pain relief for over-the-counter medications. At times doctors can prescribe preventive medicines like tricyclic antidepressants, anti-epileptic drugs, beta-blockers, etc. Treatment will mostly depend on the type and cause of a headache; hence it is always recommended to consult a doctor. Even if a person is undergoing treatment, it is always advisable to stay vary of the possible triggers.
These days alternative treatment options are also available, but they should be undergone after your doctor’s recommendation. These include:
- Herbal and nutrition health products
- Cognitive behavior therapy
Stop ignoring headaches. It is can mean much more than you think.
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