Everybody at some point or another experiences a very bad headache. The kind that throbs and doesn’t want to go away which ruins their day. It’s difficult to concentrate to get work done or to study.
There are different types of headaches that are worse than your run of the mill kind that comes and goes and is easily treated with some ibuprofen. Then there are other kinds like described above that are far more debilitating. It pays to understand the different types of headaches and what causes them so you can find the fastest way to get rid of them.
There are times when your headache should send you to the doctor or at least have a remote checkup with Neura Health. Those are cases when the headache is caused by some other factor like an allergy or illness. A primary headache is one in which the headache is the condition and not caused by some outside factor. In this article, we will go over the three most common types of primary headaches and how to deal with them.
1. Tension headaches
This is the most common type of headache that people get. It is a dull and throbbing sensation that is felt throughout the head. They can come on suddenly and last throughout the day if nothing is done about it. In some cases, the pain can extend to the neck and even cause a tightness in the shoulders.
Usually a tension headache is not going to send anybody to the doctor to be diagnosed. Only in circumstances where the pain is not going away even after treatment at home. If the headache lingers and causes other problems then it is likely not an actual tension headache and another diagnosis is likely to come.
Tension headaches can be caused by a number of factors that are difficult to control. For instance, being stressed for long periods can cause a tension headache that is difficult to get rid of. Stress causes the tension in the muscles that will constrict blood vessels and that causes a headache.
There are factors that cause headaches that are more within our control. Posture is something that can cause physical stress on the body that results in a headache. Improving posture when working in an office is essential to prevent these headaches.
Treating a tension headache is as simple as taking some over the counter medications such as:
- ibuprofen (Advil)
- naproxen (Aleve)
In addition to taking a pill, a warm bath to soothe achy muscles and relieve stress is a good way to relieve the symptoms of a tension headache.
2. Cluster headaches
A cluster headache is much more painful and disruptive than a tension headache. The name itself alludes to the fact that there is a concentrated area where the most pain occurs. Rather than a dull pain across the whole head, the pain is felt more acutely in one certain area. Usually they occur right behind the eyes which causes a lot of discomfort.
The headache usually comes without warning and the pain starts immediately. These types of headache don’t generally last as long as a tension headache. They can range from being as short as 15 minutes to as long as three hours. The cycle of the headaches is what causes the most disruption to a person’s life as they usually arrive in clusters over time. In other words, there is a high frequency of the headache over a course of a few weeks where it comes out of nowhere and then goes away but comes back frequently.
Unfortunately, the typical headache remedies don’t seem to do much and a trip to the doctor is likely the only way to get through it. Usually, some supplemental oxygen is prescribed.
The worst of the bunch of these headaches is the migraine. Not everybody gets migraines but there are some people especially susceptible to getting them. The pain is intense and throbbing and can last for days in some cases.
Many people get them so badly that they also have nausea and vomiting. Because of the increased sensitivity to light, going about a normal routine while suffering from a migraine is not usually possible.
It causes sufferers to need to take time off from work and other daily activities and lie in bed in a dark room to overcome the discomfort. There is a phenomenon called an aura which occurs before the headache. Often, migraine sufferers start seeing zig zag lines or flashes of light before the pain of the migraine begins.
Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines and it often runs in the family. Some people that suffer from PTSD will also develop frequent migraines.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to prevent a migraine from happening except to keep stress to a minimum. Treating them can be done at home.
OTC medicines like ibuprofen don’t work so there is no point in taking any. Instead, get diagnosed from your doctor and get a prescription for it to help shorten the duration of the headache. Having this on hand when the migraine arrives will help you get over it faster.
Besides lying in a dark room, you can also massage the temples to try to relieve the pain. Not everybody gets relief from doing this and in some people it actually makes the pain worse. Putting a cold compress on the neck will stimulate the nerves and distract the brain long enough to dilute the pain. Some people may feel better with a warm compress as it loosens the tension in the muscles and relieves some of the pain.
Headaches are generally nothing to worry about. However, when they become too frequent or are too painful then it makes sense to seek some professional medical advice. When a headache is disrupting your daily life then it could be a sign of something to be concerned about.