It's a pain we all deal with, at one time or another. A pain that is unforgettable and one that, unfortunately stays with us throughout our life span. Headaches, those frustrating, nagging, sometimes excruciating pains that seem to come at the worst times and have the capacity to knock us off of our feet for more time than we care to experience. We know stress can cause headaches, but it's quite remarkable all the different types of headaches there are, what can cause these irritating and unpleasant episodes in our lives, and is there any way we can prevent them?
Types Of Headaches
The best place to start is to look at the different types of headaches.
- Migraine Headaches - The most talked about headache type, we will give it a closer look below.
- Cluster Headaches - Cluster headaches are unusual and doctors aren't exactly sure what causes them. The pain described as a burning, stabbing pain felt behind the eye or on one side of the face. Watery eye and stuffy nose are also common on the side of the face with pain, as well as sweating, redness or fever on that one side.
- Allergy/Sinus Headaches - Sinus pain and pressure from allergies or sinus infection/sinus related issues cause these headaches. Located in the sinus area and in the front of the head.
- Tension Headache - The most widespread headache, everyone can get them, usually a dull ache all over the head or in any particular spot. Can also include pain in your neck, shoulders, forehead or scalp in general.
- Hypertension Headaches - These headaches are caused by high blood pressure. The pain is typically felt on both sides of the head with a throbbing nature, and movement and activity can make it worse.
- Exertion Headaches - These headaches come as an immediate result of extreme physical activity. It's believed that these intense physical activities cause increased blood flow to the skull which can cause throbbing pain.
- Caffeine Headaches - Caffeine does alter the blood flow to our brain so it is obvious that too much can cause a headache and the lack of regular dose can cause one as well, as a withdrawal.
- Post-Traumatic Headaches - These are the headaches that come as the result of a head injury, they are the same kind and pain as tension and migraine headaches.
- Rebound Headaches - These headaches come as a result of over-using medication, like over the counter medicines. They can be a dull ache or strongly painful like a migraine.
- Hormone Headaches - Headaches that are caused by hormone fluctuations in women due to situations like menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and use of birth control, to name a few.
The most "talked-about" headache is the migraine. Statics show that at least 12% of adults in the US population suffer with migraines. A migraine headache is defined as a severe, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head that is accompanied by other severe side effects like nausea, vomiting, visual impairments and sensitivity to sound and lights. Some migraine sufferers see a pattern where there is a genetic, family connection as several members of extended family will suffer with them. The data shows that women are three times more likely to develop these debilitating headaches than men are.
Headache Triggers & Ways To Prevent Them
There are many things, ways and scenarios that can trigger headaches. Some are quite commonly known, some are a total surprise. As each person is unique and an individual, so are the different types of headaches and what causes them. Doctors call these causes headache triggers.
- Migraine Headaches - Migraines can have many different triggers for many different people. Some triggers are different types of food and drink, such as red wine and other types of alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, cheese, citrus fruits, chocolate, dairy products, food dyes, tyramine, sulfates and nitrates. Some people say caffeine is a migraine trigger while others find it helps to relieve their headache. The best way to help prevent migraines is by doing elimination trials of these kinds of triggers to get to the root of what is causing the headaches. Seeing a neurologist and following a medical elimination plan is very successful in helping to diagnose what are your migraine triggers.
- Cluster Headaches - Doctors aren't really sure what causes cluster headaches but have found some prescription medications that can provide pain relief. Oxygen therapy has also proven to be helpful in those that suffer with cluster headaches.
- Allergy/Sinus Headaches - Sinus headaches come as a result of allergy related sinus issues, sinus infections, or as a result of the symptoms brought on by a cold or virus. Thankfully there are many over the counter medications that can help relieve the sinus pressure and headache, and thin out the mucus that causes the pressure in the sinuses.
- Tension Headache - Tension headaches are often triggered by stress and oftentimes pain relief comes from an over the counter medication.
- Hypertension Headaches - High blood pressure is what triggers hypertension headaches. It is essential to have your blood pressure and medical condition monitored by your physician so that high blood pressure can be lowered and controlled by the proper medication.
- Exertion Headaches - Intense physical activity causes exertion headaches, so those who experience these should be monitored by their doctor to rule out which types of physical activity they should limit or avoid.
- Caffeine Headaches - Caffeine is the culprit behind caffeine headaches. They are triggered by either too much caffeine or not enough, as in a withdrawal from caffeine. Check with your physician as to what amount of caffeine is safe for you to consume when experiencing these headaches.
- Post-Traumatic Headaches - A traumatic head head injury causes these types of headaches and should be closely monitored by doctors as a patient with a head trauma recovers.
- Rebound Headaches - These rebound headaches are triggered by taking a lot of over the counter medications. Your physician should be seen and consulted to help you determine how much of a medication is too much for you.
- Hormone Headaches - Hormone headaches are obviously brought on by the fluctuation in hormones as a result in menstruation, pregnancy and the use of birth control pills. Seeing your OBGYN for these types of headaches is key to help prevent them due to the nature of hormones and the possibility that your levels may not fall at a normal level.
When diagnosing, treating and trying to prevent headaches, you can greatly help your doctor by documenting when you have them, what you were doing, and what you were eating and drinking around the time a headache occurred. This process is called keeping a headache diary and these provide great insight as your doctor seeks to help treat you and prevent further headaches from occuring in the future. Take action in your fight against headaches, don't let them keep you from living a full, happy life anymore!!
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Sources - https://www.healthline.com/health/headache/types-of-headaches