Headaches are a nuisance no matter when they occur. They reduce the pace of our daily chores and become a hindrance. Headaches are defined as pain in the head or upper neck area. They are usually caused around the skull in the tissues because the brain doesn’t have sensory organs in it.
The International Headache Society classified headaches into two broad categories – the primary and secondary. Below is a list of various headaches their reasons, and effective remedies.
They are benign, recurrent and are not caused by any serious underlying problem. They might not be life-threatening but surely cause a hindrance in our daily lives. It is said that 90% of all headaches fall under this category. They can be treated with over the counter drugs or home remedies.
1. Migraine headaches
- These are sharp throbbing headaches in the head and sometimes in the neck area.
- They can continue from 4 – 72 hours.
- The victim usually becomes sensitive to light and sound.
- They can also experience a visual disturbance in the field of sight. It includes seeing colored spots, sparkles, stars, flashing lights, etc.
Did you know! Migraines are hereditary. If one parent suffers from migraine, there’s a 50% chance of the child suffering from the same. If both parents suffer from migraine, the chances rise to 75%.
2. Tension headaches
- These are the most common type of headaches and are caused by stress.
- They are also caused due to bad posture, anxiety, strain in the eye and tiredness.
- The exact cause for these is unknown. But doctors tell that they occur when muscles around the head contract or tighten up.
3. Cluster headaches
- Cluster headaches occur in groups or clusters.
- They can occur multiple times every day but pause for months or even years and then occur again.
- Each episode continues for around 30-90 minutes.
- It occurs around and behind the eye, causing tearing and redness.
- It is said to affect men more than women
- Cluster headaches are triggered by smoking, alcohol, high altitudes, etc.
Did you know! More than 75% people suffering from cluster headaches report light sensitivity as one of the symptoms during the attack.
4. Sinus headaches
- These are caused when sinuses are congested and filled with mucus.
- They are usually detected through a CT scan or an MRI.
- The victim feels pressure and mild pain in the forehead, cheeks, and brows.
- Sinus headaches are usually accompanied by cold, flu, fever, runny nose and congested nose.
- Seasonal allergies and infections result in a condition called sinusitis causing sinus headaches.
- Decongestants and steam inhalation with eucalyptus or peppermint oil give relief from sinus headaches.
- Breathing air from a humidifier also helps.
5. Hangover headaches
- These are caused due to dehydration after having alcohol.
- It occurs on both sides of the head as well as the forehead.
- Traditionally, hangover headaches are cured by drinking lemon water.
- If someone already suffers from any of the above headaches, alcohol intake can cause headaches.
Did you know! By the age of 7, 40% or more children have experienced a headache. By the age of 15, it rises to 75%.
These are usually malignant or tumorous and are caused by an underlying issue. It can be a warning sign for medical conditions like encephalitis, meningitis, brain tumor, head or spine injury.
Not all secondary headaches are life-threatening. For example, cervicogenic headaches. However, most secondary headaches require immediate medical attention. Below is a list of secondary headaches.
1. Post-traumatic headaches
- Caused after a brain injury.
- Victim feels symptoms like mild pain, lightheadedness, vertigo, etc.
2. Meningitis headaches
- Caused due to inflammation of meninges, the sheath covering the brain and spine.
- Can be prevented by vaccinations and antibiotics.
- Symptoms include stiff neck, sudden generalized headache, vomiting, drowsiness, and confusion.
3. Hemorrhage headaches
- Also known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
- Caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain.
- It is an emergency medical condition that requires immediate attention and is life-threatening.
- Symptoms include a sudden and severe headache, often at the back of the head.
- Other symptoms include blurred vision, sensitivity to light and sound, stiffness in neck, convulsions, nausea, and vomiting.
4. Brain Tumour headaches
- A headache is very rarely caused by a tumor.
- Causes headaches because tumors take up space inside the brain.
- Victim suffers from vomiting and nausea weeks before the headaches start.
- Headaches intensify with exertion.
- They do not respond to over the counter pain killers.
- They are the most intense when you wake up and get better gradually.
5. Glaucoma headaches
- When eyes produce excessive liquid, and it doesn’t get drained, pressure builds up in the eye causing glaucoma.
- The headaches can be felt in and around the eye with excessive drainage of liquid.
- It is usually left undiagnosed until later stages and requires immediate ophthalmological attention.
- Researches have shown that people with a high intake of flaxseeds had reduced the frequency and severity of headaches. Flaxseeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory.
- Ginger is an age-old home remedy for headaches. Mix equal parts of ginger juice and lemon juice and dilute it with a glass of water. Drink this solution every time you have a headache to get relief.
- Massages can help relax tightened up muscles and relieve tension and stress. Reduction of stress and tension helps with headaches. Both body massages and head massages work well.
- Hydrate well. Low levels of liquid intake cause dehydration and hence headaches.
- Cinnamon is another ingredient readily available in our kitchens. Grind some cinnamon and make a thick paste out of it with water. Apply this paste to your forehead and relax.
- Pop an over the counter drug like paracetamol or ibuprofen for relief.
- Studies have shown that people who take magnesium have become better with migraine headaches. Include foods like spinach, nuts, meat, salmon etc. in your diet.
- Applying peppermint oil to the affected area and inhaling lavender oil helps with the pain.
- Apply ice packs to the head and neck area. Ice numbs the pain.
- Rest in a dark room. Going out for a drive or any place windy also helps.
It is important to know the type of headache we are suffering from. This will help us get proper treatment for it. It would also help us detect any possibilities of an underlying medical condition that needs immediate medical attention. Always talk to your doctor if the headache is persistent.
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