You may experience headaches once in a while or maybe even every day. They come in a variety of levels and ways but what are the causes? Are you getting them more often than you’d like? Turns out, you may be able to prevent their onset if you can pinpoint the source. Below, we outline 5 different types of headaches and what triggers them.
Tension headaches- This is the most common type. These headaches feel like constant pressure or tension around your head, particularly around your temples and your neck. It is believed that these may be caused by the contraction of the scalp and neck muscles. They can be offset if you’re not getting enough sleep at night, dealing with a lot of stress or anxiety, from alcohol or even from straining your eyes. You can treat them with over the counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These types of headaches shouldn’t cause too much concern unless you’re dealing with them excessively.
Treatment: Over-the-counter products can alleviate pain in a prompt and effective manner. Do not become too dependent on these medications or take them too often, however, or you may fall victim to rebound headaches.
Cluster headache- Have you ever had a burning or piercing sensation in or around one eye? If so, then you’ve probably experienced a cluster headache, which typically occur in cycles or groups throughout the course of the day. Often times, they appear on one side of the head and can cause excruciating pain; lying down can often worsen the condition. In fact, during an attack, most sufferers will pace as they find that they cannot sit still. While the cause may be traced back to genetics, the true cause is still unknown. They’re also pretty rare, affecting up to 1% of the population.
Treatment: Due to the nature of these headaches, including its quick onset lasting only a brief amount of time, there is no cure; you can minimize the amount of pain you’re in, however. For quick relief, inhaling 100% oxygen at a rate of 12 liters a minute through a mask can make a dramatically alleviate your pain.
Rebound headaches- Ironically, too much pain medicine could actually be attributing to your pain. Rebound headaches occur due to the overuse of pain relieving drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or prescription drugs. It often begins with a patient taking lots of medicine for their headaches. This increase can have a counterintuitive effect on the body, as they begin developing headaches more frequently. They then take more medicine, which results in even more headaches and eventually it gets to the point where they are taking the medicine daily. These medicines can place the mind in an excited state, which can cause the headache.Additionally, rebound headaches may be offset from dips of the medicine levels in the bloodstream.
Treatment: To stop these types of headaches, one must stop using short-acting pain relief medication. It may be hard to stop the perpetual cycle at first, but a medical professional can help guide you with long-term treatment options.
Sinus headaches- Your sinuses are the air-filled cavities which can be found behind your forehead, nose, and cheekbones. If you have inflamed sinuses, the pressure in this area can trigger your sinus headache. These types of headaches are may feel worse as you bend forward or lie down. Sinus headaches are hard to self-diagnose; most people think they have a sinus headache but 80-90% of the time, they’re really suffering from a migraine.
Treatment: To treat a sinus headache, one must take care of the underlying cause. The root of your pain is due to these inflamed sinus cavities; therefore treatment options should include a saline nasal spray, humidifier, or prescription antibiotics. Using a humidifier should help as well, as it will add moisture to the air, allowing your sinuses to function properly.
Migraines- Often caused by blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers surrounding enlarged blood vessels, this is one of the most debilitating types of headaches. If you’re suffering from a migraine, you may also suffer from symptoms such as nausea; sensitivity to light, odor, and sound; stomach pain and even appetite loss. Migraines can last a few hours or even a few days and affect more women than men. Often misdiagnosed as sinus or tension headaches, migraines can be triggered by a number of factors: bright lights, allergies, alcohol, smoking, stress, or even by certain foods, such as cheese and red wine.
Treatment: Small amounts of caffeine can help alleviate migraine pain. Over-the-counter medicine can help relieve pain as well. Opt for an ice pack, which provides anti-inflammatory relief, for an easy and effective remedy.
While most headaches will go away on their own, if they’re occurring frequently or causing you excruciating pain, it’s always best to seek medical attention as it may be the sign of something more serious, such as a stroke. If your headache does not respond to treatment, contact your medical professional to ensure that the root of your pain isn’t caused by a more serious condition.