Almost everyone is familiar with the irritating pain and the throbbing sensation of headaches. What many of us may not be aware of is that there are different kinds of headache. This is important to know, because the type of treatment depends on the type of headache. A quick and an accurate treatment will provide relief faster, while an incorrect treatment procedure may have no impact at all, or worse, aggravate the pains. Some common types of headaches, along with their causes, symptoms and treatment procedures are listed below:
- Migraines: It is a chronic disorder where the person experiences frequent headaches. These may be moderate or severe in intensity and can last for around two days. Some symptoms associated with migraines are nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, spotty vision and speech problems. Migraines may be preceded by visual disturbances known as Aura, and a tingling sensation in one arm or one side of the face, or numbness in the hand. Although it is not a threat to the life of an individual, it can interfere with the day-to-day activities. The exact cause of migraines is yet unknown. However, some environmental factors such as sleep disruption, dehydration, irregular meals, hormonal fluctuations and exposure to certain chemicals commonly trigger migraines. A person suffering from migraines should immediately consult a doctor.
- Tension Headache: This is the most common type of headache, and everyone experiences it at least once in their life. This is a mild, dull and non-throbbing sensation of pain all over the head. It is also called stress headaches as it usually occurs due to severe stress, fatigue and improper posture of the head and neck. They don’t usually cause nausea or vomiting and do not obstruct day-to-day activities. Over-the-counter pain killers like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) etc. can be taken to treat them.
- Cluster Headache: It is characterized by a clustering of painful attacks over a period of some weeks. It can cause a severe, debilitating pain around the eyes or one side of the head, and is accompanied by a runny nose or watery eyes. It is the least common, but the most painful type of headache. It is called ‘cluster headache’ because it tends to occur in groups, or clusters, i.e. about 1-3 times per day for up to 3 months. Men are more prone to this type of headache than women. The causes of cluster headache are not clearly known, but doctors usually prescribe a local anaesthetic or oxygen therapy to give relief from the pain. After the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe a prevention plan to prevent its recurrence.
- Sinus headache: This is caused due to sinusitis i.e. the inflammation of the sinuses. It is focused in the sinus region and in the forehead and cheekbones. It is usually caused due to a seasonal allergy or catching cold. There is no known cure, but medications and antibiotics can help in reducing the pain. A doctor’s advice is recommended.
- Rebound Headaches: This is also known as Medication overuse headaches (MOH) and is caused due to overuse of OTC pain relievers and medications. The body becomes used to such medications, and when a person stops taking them, the headaches can return after the effects wear-off. The only way of treating rebound headaches is to stay off the medication being taken. Initially, the pain might worsen, but it will subside after a few days.
- Hangover: This occurs due to the dilation of blood vessels after alcohol consumption. It is aggravated by dehydration. The best remedy for this type of headache is to drink plenty of water and get some sleep.