Headaches: Types, Causes and Treatment


Most people experience headaches at some point in their lives. In 2020, 50 to 75 percent of adults are expected to suffer from headaches. Some conditions are mild and short-term, but some are debilitating and interfere with your everyday life.

Many factors can cause headaches, including our environment, the medications we take, and other factors. There are a number of treatments available to assist in managing the pain.

Discover the types, and how treatments can help you live a happier and healthier life, and can help you avoid headaches.

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Common types of headaches

Over 150 different types of headaches exist, but some of the most common include:

Tension headaches

Adults and teens experience tension headaches most frequently. These are mild to moderate in intensity and last between a few weeks and months. Usually, there are no other symptoms associated with them.

Migraine headaches

It is common to describe migraine headaches as pounding, throbbing pain. These events usually occur every one to four months and can last anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days. People with this condition have other symptoms as well, including light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, nausea and vomiting.

They can also suffer from upset stomachs and stomach pain, among other things. Symptoms of a migraine include paleness, dizziness, blurred vision, fever, and stomach pain. About once a month, children suffer from migraines that also cause digestive symptoms, like vomiting.

Cluster headaches

The worst headache occurs from cluster headaches. An intense burning or piercing pain may surround or surround the eye. It can throb or be constant. People with this condition often find that they cannot sit still during an attack due to the pain. When you feel pain in the eyes, the eyelid will droop, the eye will redden, the pupil will get smaller, or the eye will tear up. Your nostrils might get runny or stuffy.

This type of headache tends to happen in groups, hence the name cluster headaches. During a cluster period, which can last from 2 weeks to 3 months, you may get them one to three times per day.

They last between 15 minutes and 3 hours each. It can keep you awake. Your doctor may call this remission (the absence of headaches for a long period of time), only to have the headaches return later on. It is more common for men to have headaches than for women.

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Chronic daily headaches

If you suffer from this type of headache for more than 3 months, you have 15 days a month or more. There are some short periods. Some last for four hours or more. There are four types of headaches:

Sinus headaches

An individual suffering from a sinus headache feels constant, deep pain in his or her cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The condition results when the cavities in your head, known as the sinuses, become inflamed.

It is common to experience sinus pain in conjunction with other symptoms such as a runny nose, fullness in the ears, fever, and swelling of the face. A sinus infection causes a sinus headache, so the gunk that comes out of your nose will be yellow or green, instead of the clear discharge from cluster headaches or migraines.

Posttraumatic headaches

They usually occur two to three days after a head injury. You might experience the following symptoms:

  • A dull ache that may worsen over time
  • Vertigo
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Tiring quickly
  • Irritability

Long-term headaches may occur. But if the symptoms don’t improve in a few weeks, you should see a doctor.

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Less common headaches

Exercise headaches

Active people need more blood in their heads, neck and scalp. When blood vessels swell, more blood is supplied. An intense pulsing pain appears on both sides of the head and lasts anywhere from five minutes to 48 hours. Exercise or sex are both common activities that cause it, whether it hits while you’re active or just afterward.

Hemicrania continua

Chronic headaches usually affect one side of the head and face. Other symptoms of chronic headaches include:

  • Pain varying in severity
  • Tears or red eyes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Droopy eyelid
  • Contracted iris
  • Responds to indomethacin pain medication
  • Pain gets worse when physically active
  • Pain gets worse when drinking alcohol

Additionally, migraine sufferers may experience symptoms such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sound and light sensitivity

There are two types:

  • Chronic: You get headaches every day.
  • Remitting: Your headaches last six months. They stop for a short period of time and then return.

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Hormone headaches

Hormonal changes during your periods, during pregnancy, and during menopause may cause headaches. Hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills can cause headaches, as well. They’re called menstrual migraines when they occur 2 or 3 days before or after a period begins.

New Daily Persistent Headaches (NDPH)

Such headaches can appear suddenly and persist for three months or more. Some people are able to recall the day when the pain started. Doctors are not sure why these headaches occur. People who have it find that it occurs after an infection, flu-like illness, surgery, or stressful event.

Moderate pain is the norm, but some people experience severe pain as well. It’s a difficult condition to overcome. Your symptoms will be different from person to person. Symptoms can include headaches or fatigue. Some people experience nausea or light sensitivity in conjunction with migraine.

When your headache won’t go away or is severe, you should see your doctor.

Rebound headaches

Medication overuse headaches are also called rebound headaches. Overusing pain relievers, whether they are prescription or over-the-counter, puts you at risk for even more pain. Taking more meds to stop the pain when the meds wear off makes it worse. The condition may be dull and constant, and it tends to be worse in the morning.

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Rare headaches

Ice pick headaches

The headaches last for only a few seconds and are usually stabbing and intense. Occasionally they may happen more than once a day. See your doctor if you experience one. This condition can occur on its own or be a sign of another condition.

Spinal headaches

If you feel that you have a headache after having a spinal tap, spinal block, or epidural, talk to your doctor. Puncture headache is what doctors call it when they pierce the membrane around your spinal cord. Whenever spinal fluid leaks from the puncture site, headaches can occur.

Thunderclap headaches

This headache is often called the worst headache you have ever had. It often happens unexpectedly and peaks suddenly. There are several causes of thunderclap headaches, including:

  • Ruptures, tears, or blockages of blood vessels
  • Head injury
  • Blood vessel rupture in the brain causes a hemorrhagic stroke
  • Blockages in arteries cause ischemic stroke
  • Reduced blood flow to the brain
  • Inflamed blood vessels
  • Changes in blood pressure

An unexpected headache should not be ignored. When it comes to serious problems, it is often the only indication.

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What causes headaches?

When you get a headache, you experience a mix of signals from your brain, blood vessels and nearby nerves. You receive pain signals from your brain due to nerves located in your blood vessels and head muscles. These signals aren’t always turned on, but it is unclear how they do so.

There are several causes of headaches, including:

  • Illness: It includes fevers, infections and colds. Other causes of headaches include sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), throat infections, or ear infections. An injury to the head can sometimes result in headaches, or they can be a sign of more serious medical conditions.
  • Stress: There are various causes of depression and emotional stress, including alcohol use, skipping meals, sleep patterns that are changed, and too much medication. Poor posture can also contribute to depression and emotional stress.
  • Your environment: There are also certain foods that cause allergies, as well as secondhand tobacco smoke and strong odors from household chemicals. There are other triggers, such as stress, pollution, noise and lighting.
  • Genetics: People with migraines often inherit the problem. 90% of children and teens who suffer from migraines have someone in their family who suffers from migraines as well. It is estimated that 70% of children with both parents experiencing migraines will also suffer from them. It is likely that 25% to 50% of children will suffer from these condition if only one parent has them.

Migraines aren’t completely understood by doctors. The electric charge in nerve cells is thought to cause migraines by causing a series of changes.

Adults can also suffer migraines from too much physical activity.

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Getting a diagnosis

Your symptoms can be treated accurately once you have your headaches diagnosed.

Consult your doctor about condition as the first step. You will receive a physical examination and be asked about the symptoms you have and how often they occur. Make sure to provide as much information as possible.

Your doctor should know what causes your headaches, what makes them worse, and what helps you relieve them. Your doctor can diagnose your problem based on the details you record in a diary.

Diagnostic tests aren’t required for most people. Occasionally, doctors recommend having a CT scan or MRI to determine whether your condition is caused by anything inside your brain. A skull X-ray won’t provide any answers. It’s also unnecessary to perform an electroencephalogram (EEG) when you’ve had a headache unless you passed out.

A headache specialist may be able to refer you if your symptoms worsen or increase despite treatment.

What is the treatment for headaches?

There are several types of treatments that your doctor might recommend. For example, your doctor might refer you to an expert in headaches.

Treatment for headache depends on many factors, such as the type, frequency, and cause of your headache. In some cases, no treatment is required. However, those who qualify for medical treatment may be provided with medications, electronic medical equipment, counseling, stress management and biofeedback. Each patient’s individualized treatment plan will be devised by their physician.

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What happens after I begin treatment?

Whenever you begin a treatment program, keep a close eye on its success. If you keep a headache diary, you will be able to note patterns or changes in your symptoms. Please be patient as you and your physician may need some time to find the best treatment plan. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to your relationship with them.

Although you are receiving treatment, you should still avoid foods or smells that can trigger your headaches, regardless of whether you are getting treatment. Also, you should maintain healthy habits that keep you feeling good, such as regular exercise, adequate rest, and a balanced diet. In addition, make certain you attend your scheduled follow-up appointments so that your physician will be able to assess your progress and make any necessary changes to your treatment program.

Headache prevention

Consider identifying and avoiding your triggers as a way to prevent headache or migraine attacks.

If you drink two cups of coffee instead of one, your condition seems to get a bit worse. When faced with this situation, you would stay away from the second cup and find alternative ways to boost your energy.

Moreover, if your headaches get worse or seriously interfere with your daily life, you should consult a doctor. It is possible to identify the cause or type of your headache and receive treatment accordingly.

There is no need to ignore headache disorders even though they are common. Rather, it is best to pay attention to your body and, if necessary, seek help.

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