What is a Headache?
The condition where there is a continuous pain in the head is termed as a headache. This extremely common condition may also occur in the upper neck area of the body. A headache can either be in the entire head or can also occur in specific parts of the head like temples or eyes. A headache can be dull or sharp and may also have symptoms of nausea or light sensitivity. Problem of headache has multiple causes and have many severities. The migraine headache is the most severe type of headache.
Types of Headache
Migraine Headaches : Migraine is the most severe and common type of headache. Migraine generally occurs in one side of the head. This type of headache sometimes lasts for 2-72 hours and is usually associated with vomiting, nausea and sensitivity to sound or light. This is normally a type of throbbing pain. Migraine with Aura or Classic Migraine is the condition when a migraine shows a warning symptom. Acephalgic Migraine, Ocular Migraine, Hemiplegic Migraine, Opthalmic Migraine and Basilar Migraine are the less common types of migraine. A patient can also have more than one type of headache known as migraine plus tension-type.
Sinus Headache : This type of headache is majorly caused by infection due to building up of excess fluid. Sinus headache involves ethmoid, frontal and maxillary sinuses.
Tension Headache : Typically referred to as hat-band headaches, tension headache is considered as the second most common type of headache. These headaches usually cause pain in the forehead, temples and at the back of the head. This headache can last from 2 hours to several days and can occur along with a migraine. Tension headache can be treated with the help of relaxation therapy, muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Tension headache is very painful just like a migraine headache.
Compound Headache : This type involves migraine headache and muscle contraction.
Cluster Headache : This type lasts for a short duration from twenty minutes to 2 hours as compared to migraine. It usually occurs in only one side of the head and include symptoms of tearing, a droopy lid, an enlarged pupil and a stuffy nose. Cluster headache can occur many times in a day and can also be there for weeks. It can then disappear after several weeks.
"Atypical" Headaches : These types of headaches can be treated by specific methods and also require precise diagnosis.
Hypnic Headache : This type is usually seen in people in between the age group of 40-80. A unique thing about this headache is that it occurs at the same time at night and lasts for about 15-60 minutes and affects the entire head. There are no symptoms of tearing, runny nose or cluster features. Specific treatments and medications are there for treating hypnic headaches.
Trigeminal neuralgia or "Tic Doloreaux" : In this severe type of headache, there is an irritation of the 5th cranial nerve that comes and leaves suddenly. It has been seen that people suffering from this severe headache commit suicide as the pain is extremely severe and occurs unexpectedly.
Causes of Headaches
- Diet and food sensitivities
- Hormonal influences
- Eye problems
- Stress and muscular tension
- Jaw problems
- Ear, nose and throat disorders
- Rebound headache and medications
- Infection, hemorrhage and nerve damage in the nervous system
Other causes include –
- Extreme temperatures of heat and cold
- Temporal arteritis
- Poor posture
Symptoms of Different Type of Headaches
Symptoms of Cluster Headache include –
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- A cluster cycle that last for more than six weeks
- A stabbing sensation on one side of the head
- Severe pain in and around temple or one eye
- Can occur many times a day throughout a cluster cycle
- Attacks lasting from fifteen minutes to three hours.
Symptoms of Migraine with Aura Headache include –
- It may range from mild to excruciating
- Involves pulsating or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
- Aura starts 5-30 minutes before the headache pain
- The pain lasts for 4-72 hours
- May be accompanied by sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms of Hormone Related Migraine Headache include –
- Decrease in headache after menopause
- Vomiting or nausea
- Use of estrogen-replacement therapy or use of oral contraceptives that can provoke headaches
- Pain in one or both sides of the head
- Headaches worsen after or before menstrual period
Symptoms of Rebound Headache include –
- Symptoms worsen over time
- Mild to moderate pain in front and back of the head
- Continuous or daily use of pain medication
Symptoms of Tension-type Headache include –
- Pain in both sides of the head
- Stress related pain
- Pain may involve only nausea and not vomiting
- Pressure like a tight band around the neck and head
Treatment Options for Headaches
There are several treatments available that can decrease the pain and disability due to headaches and migraine. The treatment depends upon the frequency and type of headache. Different treatment plan includes preventive medications, physical therapy, acute headache medications, avoidance of headache triggers and bio-behavioral treatments like relaxation therapy and biofeedback. In case of acute problems, symptomatic medicines can be given. Several preventive medicines are also given for decreasing severity and frequency of headache symptoms.
Benefits of Headache Treatment
Treatments for headache help in eliminating pain and also relaxes the mind of a patient. Several medications are also given for reducing the pain in the head. Different treatment plans are also provided to patients that effectively reduces the problem of headaches.