Headaches and Their Meanings
Several different types of headaches are known, and each is caused by different factors and, of course, exhibit varying symptoms. The most common headache types do not last long, while the other few do linger. Most headaches are location-specific, meaning they only cause pain on a particular part of the brain. It is often a normal thing for one to experience a headache as it serves as an indicator, helping to alert you of your nervous system‘s condition.
According to a general saying, detecting one’s source of the problem (ill health) is a long way toward getting a solution. It is pertinent you know these types of headaches to prepare for their future emergence. Not all headaches need serious medical attention; some may only require you to have some rest, “and up you get better.” Your ability to recognize which kind of headache you experience should tell you how best to approach it, and whether or not to see a doctor.
While headaches can be excruciating sometimes, the majority of headaches can be treated using simple analgesics (painkillers), and symptoms disappear within a short period. However, re-occurring attacks of certain headache types could be pointing to a more severe condition.
This article will reveal extensively how to identify and treat the most common headache types, alongside causes and ways of preventing them. “Remember how precious your health is.
How often you notice signs of headaches can be grouped in two ways (episodic or chronic headaches);
- Episodic headaches: Signs/symptoms may not be consistent; at a point, you feel it, and at another point, you get relieved soon (i.e., it occurs once in a while). These headaches can last up to 45 minutes.
- Chronic headaches: Symptoms here are more consistent. They occur mostly in days and can last for a week and above at a stretch. Immediate pain management is necessary in this case.
Over one hundred and fifty (150) types of headaches have been identified by the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD). All headache types are further grouped into two major categories (primary, secondary, and cranial neuralgias);
A lot of primary headaches have been identified, but only a few are pronounced. Three of them are most common: tension, migraine, cluster headaches, other uncommon primary headache types, viz, Exertional headaches, and hypnic headaches.
How do you detect a tension headache? You might feel a dull and aching sensation over your head (not beating or throbbing). You might also feel sensitivity or tenderness around your shoulder muscles, neck, scalp, or forehead. Tension headache is often inspired by stress and can affect anybody regardless of his/her age but occur more frequently among adults (women than men).
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain-relief drugs (ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), caffeine, and acetaminophen) may be efficient to limit the occurrence of your occasional symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe medications like indomethacin, ketorolac, and meloxicam (Mobic). This is likely the recommended drug incase the OTC (over-the-counter) medications are not aiding relief.
Migraine pain often comes with an intense throbbing from deep within your head (one-sided), which might span through days. Victims of migraine headaches are most sensitive to light and noise and often display nausea and vomiting.
Some migraines may be preceded by visual disturbances. About ten (10) out of fifty (50) people will experience the symptoms before the headache commence. This is known as an aura, and it may cause you to see;
- flashing lights
- zigzag lines
- shimmering lights
- blind spots
Auras may also include tingling on the side of your face or one of your arms and. It is often associated with difficulty in speaking. However, the symptoms of a migraine can also mimic a stroke, so if you find any of these symptoms strange, you should seek immediate medical care.
Migraine headaches rank second among the common of primary headache types. Migraine headaches may affect both adults and children. Boys and girls below puberty age are equally affected by migraine headaches, but women become more affected than men at puberty.
Migraine attacks might be hereditary or be associated with some nervous system conditions. Women are thrice more likely to experience migraines than men. An individual with the post-traumatic disorder also has a high risk for migraine. Migraine may be triggered by some factors, including sleep loss, dehydration, skipped diets, some foods, hormonal imbalance, and exposure to harmful chemicals.
Cluster headaches are rare types of primary headaches. They majorly affect young men in their late 20s, though women and children are not let out. Symptoms of this headache type may include: swollen eyelid, watering eye, restlessness blocked or a runny nose, hypersensitivity to light and sound
Cluster headaches are often sudden, with no warning, and may last from about 15 minutes and 3 hours. Some people may get up to seven attacks in a day. They often take place at a specific time of day, majorly a couple of hours into night sleep.
Although the cause of cluster headache is yet unclear, smokers and alcoholic addicts are more attacked. People should, therefore, avoid alcohol and smoking during attack periods.
4. Exertional Headaches
Exertional headaches are often preceded by some strenuous physical exercise such as:
- sexual intercourse
- lifting of weight
These headaches do not last long but can sometimes be felt up to 2 days. They are characterized by some throbbing pain that is felt throughout the head.
Most exertional attacks can be treated with a variety of OTC analgesics. You are advised to take a beta-blocker or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) before exertion to avoid headaches.
5. Hypnic Headaches
A hypnic headache is an uncommon condition that often begins for the first time in an individual around his/her 50s but may start sooner. The headache type is also known as “the alarm clock headaches.” They are known to wake people from night sleep. A hypnic headache is characterized by a mild-to-moderate pounding/throbbing pain, usually on both sides of the head. It may last for about 3 hours, and symptoms of nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound may surface.
Secondary headaches are symptoms of other underlying structural or infectious conditions around the head region, such as headaches resulting from an injury to the head or an abrupt caffeine withdrawal.
Secondary headaches are a broad group of medical issues ranging from dental pain to other life-threatening health conditions such as bleeding in the brain or infections like encephalitis and meningitis.
Medication-Overuse Headache (MOH)
A medication-overuse headache (MOH) — also known as a rebound headache, is the most occurring type of secondary headache. A MOH is characterized by frequent headaches with symptoms similar to those of migraines and tension headaches.
How To Prevent MOH;
- avoiding codeine usage
- do not take the analgesic drug more than 2 days of a week
- use preventive drugs for a chronic migraine
7. Sinus headaches
You may exhibit signs of dullness, a beating ache around the eyes, forehead, and cheeks.
Sinus headache is mainly identified by a yellow or dark greenish discharge from the nose. You might also notice symptoms like light or sound sensitivity, blocked nose, nausea, and fever.
8. Caffeine-Triggered Headaches
Excess caffeine consumption (usually more than 400mg), about 4 coffee cups, may sometimes cause headaches.
You may feel symptoms like nausea, tiredness, difficulty concentration, lousy mood, or irritability.
9. Head-Injury Headaches
Minor blows and bumps to the head and/or neck are major causes of this headache type.
Sometimes, a headache may begin just after the impact, which is similar to tension or migraine headaches and can be treated with OTC analgesics.
However, you should consult your doctor if the headache persists. Always remember to call an ambulance for any serious head injury for immediate prevention of brain complications.
10. Menstrual Headaches
Most headaches are often associated with changes in hormone levels. Migraine in women is frequent and often linked to natural changes in estrogen levels during the period.
Menstrual migraines are often experienced from the days preceding period through to period or during ovulation. Symptoms are close to that of migraine without aura but may span longer.
Treatment for a menstrual headache remains the same as in the treatment for migraine (with no aura). Doctors may advise you about possible preventive measures to avoid this headache, such as:
- hormonal therapy
- using a triptan or NSAID during the time of periods
- omitting the pill-free break as an alternative contraception plan
- hormone replacement therapy in individual at menopause
11. Hangover Headaches
Do you consume too much alcohol? Do you know you could wake up the next morning with a beating headache? These headache types are usually felt on both sides of the head and are worsen by locomotion. You may feel hyper-sensitive to light and nausea.
There are no pronounced treatments yet for hangovers, but one may reduce its symptoms by drinking a large amount of water and eating high sugar foods. Over-The-Counter (OTC) painkillers drugs (analgesics) may help reduce or end the headache pain.
Signs of hangovers tend to varnish within seventy-two (72) hours, and your additional risk of having a hangover may be decreased by:
- drinking less alcoholic drinks
- not drinking without food in your stomach
- taking water while drinking alcoholic beverages and before going to sleep