Headaches And What They Mean
Introduction to Headache
Often, when we wake up on ‘the wrong side of the bed,’ we complain of a morning headache that won’t disappear after eating breakfast or taking a pain reliever. Your eyes are teary throughout the day and it’s just disturbing. At night, you wonder where that pounding one-sided headache came from and you wish it would go away with rest but it doesn’t. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what your headaches were trying to tell you?
Almost half of the world suffers from headaches once or twice a year. They are among the most common health concerns worldwide, which have been left for granted despite their high prevalence in late teens, working adults, and seniors. This article will attempt to describe three common types of headaches and hopefully help you know how to treat them.
What type of Headache Do You Have?
- Tension headache. Most commonly seen in the late teens and adults, tension headaches are also referred to as stress or chronic headaches. They are elicited initially by a tightness of the head, shoulder, and neck muscles due to excessive stress. You can also get these headaches when you have poor posture or have the habit of grinding your teeth.
Pain relievers usually cure tension headaches but are not to be used too often as this may cause addiction or dependence. Taking too many pain killers has also been reported to cause rebound headaches and eventually hepatic damage.
The safest and healthiest way to get rid of these headaches is exercise. Rolling the shoulders backward with palms facing your body can greatly influence and correct one’s posture. Stretching the neck muscles by tilting it to the right, left, back and center also relaxes the neck and shoulders. These moves may be simple but are definitely beneficial in getting rid of the tension that is building up from the day’s work and may help in avoiding another headache episode.
- Migraines. This presents with a sore or pounding headache, with mostly mild to moderate pain. The individual looks sick and pale. He usually feels nauseated with blurry visions and a hypersensitivity to light, strong smells, and noise. Migraines interfere with daily activities if left untreated, as they may persist for 3 to 4 hours. When stomach pains are present, these are called abdominal migraines.
Known to be the sixth most disabling illness worldwide, migraines are more prevalent in women than men and are thought to be genetic in some instances. They are considered a neurological condition, due to disrupted electrical changes from the brain stem. Individuals who have migraines are often coffee or alcohol drinkers and are advised to reduce their consumption of these substances to prevent further aggravation. Those who diet inappropriately and are dehydrated also get these disturbing headaches that come and go.
The best way to stop migraines aside from taking strong pain relievers is to prevent them from occurring, which means keeping track of triggers and staying away from them as much as possible. Some examples of triggers are caffeine, alcohol, cheese, and chocolates.
- Cluster headache. As its name implies, this type of headache occurs in groups and is described as pain that is intense and excruciating. It occurs just right after falling asleep and may last for about two hours, up to seven or eight episodes a day for a few consecutive weeks. Ironically, most individuals report that the headaches disappear suddenly after occurring for several weeks, and then come back, still as intense as they were. Triggers are nicotine and alcohol.
Since cluster headaches are by far the most painful and distressing, stronger painkillers are used to treat them. Some people don’t get cured with painkillers and need to be injected by a nerve block at the back of the head so the individual can tolerate the pain. Pure oxygen therapy has also proven to be very effective in treating cluster headaches.