Headache symptoms, types, causes & treatment
Headache is a common health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck area. While most headaches are not serious, they can still cause significant discomfort and affect your quality of life. In this blog, we will discuss the different types of headaches, their causes, headache symptoms, and treatment options.
Types of Headaches
1) Primary Headaches
A primary headache is when the headache itself is the main problem. It is not a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. While the pain from primary headaches can be disabling, the headaches are not dangerous. The brain cannot feel pain, so the pain associated with primary headache comes from the inflammation of pain-sensitive parts of the body in and around the neck and head, including:
b) Blood vessels
There are several categories of primary headaches. Some of the most common types of primary headaches include:
a) Migraine Headaches: These headaches are characterized by intense pulsing or throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head, and can last for hours to days. Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances.
b) Cluster headaches: These headaches are rare but very painful and usually occur in cycles or clusters that can last for weeks or months. They are characterized by severe, piercing pain around one eye or on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by other symptoms such as eye watering, nasal congestion, and restlessness.
c) New daily persistent headache (NDPH): It is characterized by the abrupt onset of persistent daily headaches that continue for more than three months without remission. It is often described as a constant, unremitting headache that is moderate to severe in intensity and typically affects both sides of the head. NDPH can occur in individuals of any age but is most commonly seen in young adults.
2) Secondary Headaches
A secondary headache is caused by another condition that triggers pain-sensitive areas in the neck and head. Secondary headaches are rare, but they can also be much more serious than primary headaches. Secondary headaches can be a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition, including:
a) Brain tumours
c) Meningitis, a bacterial or viral infection causing inflammation of the brain
d) Neck or brain injury
Secondary headaches typically start out of nowhere and are excruciating.
Less Common Headaches
When you’re active, the muscles in your head, neck, and scalp need more blood. Your blood vessels swell to supply them. The result is a pulsing pain on both sides of your head that can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 48 hours. It usually hits while you’re active or just afterward, whether the activity is exercise or sex.
Hemicrania continua is a chronic, ongoing headache almost always affects the same side of your face and head. Other symptoms include:
a) Pain that varies in severity
b) Red or teary eyes
c) Runny or stuffy nose
d) Droopy eyelid
e) Contracted iris
f) Responds to the pain medication indomethacin
g) Worse pain with physical activity
h) Worse pain with drinking alcohol
i) Some people also notice migraine symptoms like:
j) Nausea and vomiting
k) Sensitivity to light and sound
There are two types:
1) Chronic: You have daily headaches.
2) Remitting: You have headaches for 6 months. They go away for a period of weeks or months and come back.
Causes of Headaches
The causes of headaches can vary depending on the type of headache. Here are some of the most common causes:
1) Migraine Headaches – The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they are thought to be related to changes in the brain’s chemicals and blood vessels.
2) Cluster Headaches – The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but they are thought to be related to changes in the brain’s chemicals and nerve pathways.
3) New daily persistent headache – The exact cause of NDPH is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to changes in brain function or inflammation in the nervous system. People often develop NDPH while they have a viral or bacterial infection, including Epstein Barr Virus, Salmonella, Dengue Fever.
Headache symptoms can vary depending on the type of headache. Here are some of the most common headache symptoms:
1) Migraine Headaches symptoms – Migraine headache symptoms include throbbing pain on one side of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Migraine headaches are a type of headache characterized by moderate to severe throbbing pain, often accompanied by other headache symptoms. Here the common headache symptoms associated with migraine headaches are Sensitivity to Sound (Phonophobia) and Sensitivity to Light (Photophobia).
2) Cluster Headache symptoms – Cluster headache symptoms include severe pain around one eye, drooping eyelids, and a runny or stuffy nose.
3) New daily persistent headache symptoms – NDPH headaches symptoms include a feeling of pressure or tightness in the forehead, temples, or back of the head.
Other headache symptoms
Nausea and vomiting: Some headache symptoms, especially migraines, may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Sensitivity to light and sound: Many people with headaches, especially migraines, find that they are sensitive to light and sound during an episode.
Aura: Some people experience sensory disturbances known as auras before or during a migraine. Auras can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots.
Head Pain Treatment
There are several treatment options available for headaches, depending on the type and severity of the headache. Here are some of the most common treatments:
1) Migraine Headache Treatment – Treatment for migraines includes over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, and lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers such as certain foods and stressors.
2) Cluster Headache Treatment – Treatment for cluster headaches includes prescription medications, oxygen therapy, and nerve blocks.
3) New daily persistent headache – Treatment for NDPH headaches includes medication such as antidepressants, antiseizure, botulin toxin injections, beta blockers and lifestyle changes.
Chronic Stress Headaches Treatment
Chronic stress can lead to headaches, particularly tension headaches. If you are experiencing chronic stress headaches, there are several treatment options available.
1) Stress Management Techniques – Stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce stress and prevent tension headaches.
2) Lifestyle Changes – Making lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress and prevent tension headaches.
3) Counselling – Counselling can help you identify the sources of your stress and develop coping strategies to manage it.
4) Medications – Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help reduce stress and prevent tension headaches.
The headache symptoms of tension-type headaches associated with chronic stress may include Dull, Aching Pain, Pressure Sensation, Scalp and Neck Tenderness.
1) Headaches can be a frustrating and debilitating condition, but there are many treatment options available. Some head pain treatment centres in Jalandhar may offer specialized services for specific types of headaches, such as tension headaches or migraines.
2) If you are experiencing head pain, you may want to consider visiting a headache treatment centre in Jalandhar i.e. NHS Neuro Care, which can provide you with a range of treatment options, including prescription medications, management therapies and lifestyle changes. Backed by experts, they can also help you identify the underlying causes of your head pain and develop a plan to manage it.
Q: What is a headache?
A: A headache is a common medical condition characterized by pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck.
Q: How are headaches diagnosed?
A: Headaches are typically diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms and medical history. In some cases, diagnostic tests such as imaging tests, blood tests, or spinal taps may be recommended to rule out underlying medical conditions.
Q: What are the treatment options for headaches?
A: Treatment options for headaches may include over the counter pain relievers, prescription medications, lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage.