June 24, 2024

The majority of individuals are unaware of the complexity of headaches. Various types may present with distinct symptoms, occur for distinct causes, and require distinct therapies.

Knowing what kind of headache you have will help you and your doctor determine the best course of action, including trying to prevent further headaches.


Common Types of Headaches

Over 150 different kinds of headaches exist, but the following are the most prevalent ones:

1. Tension Headaches:
Adults and teenagers most frequently have tension headaches. They come and go throughout time, causing mild to severe pain. Usually, they don’t exhibit any further signs.

2. Migraine Headaches:
A common description of a migraine headache is throbbing, hammering agony. They typically occur one to four times per month and can last anywhere from 5 hours to 4 days. In addition to the pain, others have nausea or vomiting, lack of appetite, sensitivity to light, noise, or scents, and upset stomach or gut ache. A youngster suffering from a migraine may experience symptoms such as paleness, vertigo, blurred vision, fever, and upset stomach. Vomiting is one of the few digestive symptoms associated with children’s migraines, and it occurs roughly once a month.

3. Cluster Headaches:
The most intense headaches are these ones. One eye may be severely burned or pierced behind or around. It may be continuous or throbbing. Most patients with cluster headaches find it impossible to sit still during an episode and frequently pace because of the excruciating pain. The eyelid droops, the eye reddens, the pupil shrinks, or the eye starts to tear on the side where the pain is. That side’s nostril runs or constricts.
Because they frequently occur in clusters, they are known as cluster headaches. They may appear one to three times a day for the duration of a cluster period, which can extend from 14 days to 3 months. There is a 15 minute to 3-hour duration to each headache attack. You may be roused from sleep by them. For months or years, the headaches may entirely stop (your doctor will refer to this as a remission) before returning at a later time. Compared to women, men are three to four times more likely to get them.

4. Chronic Daily Headaches:
You’ve had this kind of headache for longer than 3 months—at least 15 days per month. A few are brief. Others go more than 4 hours. Typically, it’s one of the 4 primary forms of headaches listed below:

A. Hemicrania persistente
B. Fresh, ongoing headache every day
C. Persistent migraine
D. Persistent tension headache

5. Sinus Headaches:
A severe, persistent pain in your forehead, nose bridge, or cheeks is experienced when you have a sinus headache. They develop from inflammation of the sinuses, which are cavities in the skull. Typically, the discomfort is accompanied by other sinus symptoms such as fever, puffy face, runny nose, and fullness in the ears. Unlike the clear discharge from cluster or migraine headaches, the junk coming out of your nose will be yellow or green if you have a real sinus headache, which is caused by a sinus infection.

6. Posttraumatic Headaches:
Head injuries typically cause posttraumatic stress headaches 2 to 3 days later. You’ll experience:

A. Vertigo
B. Dizziness
C. Difficulty focusing
D. Memory issues
E. Tiring quickly
F. A pain, dull discomfort that occasionally gets worse
G. Irritability

A few months may pass between headaches. But give your doctor a call if, after a few weeks, it doesn’t improve.

Less Common Headaches

1. Exercise Headaches:
Moving around causes your head, neck, and scalp muscles to use more blood. Your arteries dilate to supply them. Your head will hurt in a pulsating manner for 5 minute to 48 hours on both sides as a result. It frequently happens during or right after an activity, such as sex or exercise.

2. Hemicrania Continua:
The same side of your face and head is nearly always affected by hemicrania continua, a persistent, chronic headache. Additional signs and symptoms consist of:

A. Pain with different levels of intensity
B. Eyes that are red or teary
C. Stuffy or runny nose
D. Drooping eyelid
E. Iris contracted
F. Reacts to indomethacin, a painkiller
G. Increased pain when moving around
H. Increased pain when consuming alcohol

Some also see the following signs of migraines like:

A. Vomiting and nausea
B. Sensitivity to sound and light

There are two types:

A. Chronic: You experience headaches every day.
B. Remitting: You have 6 months of headaches. They disappear for a few weeks or months, then reappear.

3. Hormone Headaches:
Hormone fluctuations during menopause, pregnancy, and your menstruation can cause headaches. Headaches can also be brought on by hormone changes brought on by hormone replacement treatment and birth control tablets. Menstrual migraines are defined as occurring 2 days prior to your period or within the first 3 days following the onset of your period.

4. New Daily Persistent Headaches:
These could begin abruptly and last for 3 months or more. Many can still clearly recall the day they first felt pain.

Physicians are unsure of the exact cause of this kind of headache. Some discover that it happens following an infection, illness resembling the flu, surgery, or stressful incident.

Although it is usually mild, some people have significant discomfort. It is frequently difficult to treat.

The symptoms can differ greatly. Some resemble headaches from tension. Other people also have migraine symptoms including light sensitivity or nausea.

If your headache is severe or won’t go away, give your doctor a call.

5. Rebound Headaches:
These may also be referred to as pharmaceutical overuse headaches. You’re setting yourself up for additional pain if you take an OTC or prescription pain reliever more frequently than twice or three times a week, or more than 10 times a month. You need to take more medication to stop the pain when the effects of the medication wear off. This may result in a persistent, dull headache that is frequently worse in the morning.

Rare Headaches

1. Ice Pick Headaches:
These sharp, brief headaches typically last only a few seconds. At most, they may occur a few times per day. See your physician if you have one. Ice pick headaches may indicate a different ailment or be a separate ailment.

2. Spinal Headaches:
If you get headaches following an epidural, spinal tap, or spinal block, consult your physician. Because these operations entail puncturing the membrane surrounding your spinal cord, your doctor may refer to it as a puncture headache. Headache may result from spinal fluid seeping through the puncture site.

3. Thunderclap Headaches:
This is frequently referred to be the worst headache of your life. It appears out of nowhere and swiftly peaks. Thunderclap headaches can be brought on by:

A. Tear, rupture, or blockage of a blood vessel
B. Head injury
C. A cerebral hemorrhagic stroke caused by a burst blood vessel
D. An ischemic stroke caused by a clogged cerebral blood vessel
E. Blood arteries that surround the brain are narrowed
F. Swollen blood vessels
G. Variations in blood pressure during the latter stages of pregnancy

Be mindful of a sudden, fresh headache. It’s frequently the sole alert you have of a significant issue.

What Causes Headaches?

The combination of messages from your brain, blood vessels, and surrounding nerves causes the discomfort you experience when you have a headache. Certain nerves in your brain’s muscles and blood vessels activate and transmit pain signals to your brain. However, it’s unclear how these signals are initially activated.

Typical headache reasons include:

A. Illness: This can involve fevers, colds, and infections. A throat infection, an ear infection, or sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) can also cause headaches. Headaches can occasionally be caused by a blow to the head or, less frequently, be an indication of a more serious medical issue.
B. Stress: alcohol consumption, meal skipping, irregular sleep habits, emotional tension, and sadness, as well as overmedication. Poor posture can also lead to tension on the neck or back.
C. Your environment: include allergies, particular meals, intense odors from household chemicals or fragrances, and secondhand tobacco smoke. Other potential factors include stress, pollution, noise, illumination, and variations in the weather.
D. Genetics: Migraine headaches in particular are known to run in families. 90% percent of children and teenagers with migraines have other family members who also suffer from them. There is a 70% likelihood that a child will experience migraines if both parents have a history of them. The chance decreases to 25%–50% if only one parent has a history of severe headaches.

Experts are unsure about the precise etiology of migraines. According to one idea, migraines are the result of a series of alterations brought on by an issue with the electric charge passing through nerve cells.

Adults who engage in excessive physical activity may also experience migraines.

Getting a Diagnosis

A correct diagnosis of your headaches will allow you to begin the appropriate plan of treatment for your symptoms

Consult your doctor about your headaches as a first step. In addition to performing a physical examination, they will inquire about the nature and frequency of your symptoms. These descriptions must be as thorough as possible. Make a note of everything that triggers your headaches, what exacerbates them, and what relieves them and give it to your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose your headache by reviewing the information you record in a headache diary.

Most folks don’t require specialized diagnostic examinations. However, occasionally, physicians recommend an MRI or CT scan to check for internal brain issues that could be the source of your headaches. Cerebral X-rays are useless. It’s also not necessary to get an electroencephalogram (EEG) unless you’ve passed out with a headache.

Ask your doctor to send you to a headache specialist if your headache symptoms worsen or occur more frequently even after therapy.

How Are Headaches Treated?

Your physician could suggest experimenting with various therapy modalities. They may also recommend more tests or a referral to a headache expert.

Numerous factors, such as the kind of headache you have, how frequently you get them, and what causes them, will determine the kind of treatment you require. Some people don’t even require medical assistance. However, those who do may receive biofeedback, counseling, electronic medical devices, medicines, and stress management. A customized treatment plan will be developed by your physician for you.

What Happens After I Start Treatment?

After you begin a treatment program, monitor its effectiveness. You might keep a headache journal to track any trends or shifts in your symptoms. Try to be patient as you and your doctor may need some time to choose the best course of action. Share with them the things that are and aren’t working for you.

You should avoid foods and scents that you know will make your headaches worse even if you are receiving medication. Maintaining healthy routines that will keep you feeling good, such as consistent exercise, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet, is also crucial. Additionally, keep all of your planned follow-up appointments so your doctor can assess your progress and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.

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