Headache: Types, Causes and Treatment
Headache is a common condition that most people experience many times in their lives due to the increasing activity and hustle and bustle of life.Headache is a painful impact in any part of the head. It can be throbbing, constant, sharp or gentle. Headache may be due to emotional, physical, or environmental reasons or an underlying serious condition. The treatment of headache depends on the cause. It can be treated with proper medication and stress management.
Headaches can happen suddenly or may develop gradually, and may last for an hour to several days. It is also known as cephalgia in medical terms.
Types of Headache
Headache falls into three main categories depending on the source of the pain-
- Primary headache
- Secondary headache
- Cranial neuralgia or other headache
A primary headache is when the headache itself is the main problem. It has not appeared as a symptom of any disease. Primary headache includes-
Tension Type Headache- Tension type headache is the most common type of headache in adults and adolescents. It causes mild to moderate pain that comes and goes over time. Tension type headaches usually have no other symptoms.
Migraine- Migraines can cause severe stabbing pain or a throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head. This often includes nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity towards light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours or days, and the pain can be severe enough to interfere with your daily activities. Medications can help prevent migraines and make it less painful.
Cluster Headache- Cluster headache is the most serious type of headache. You may experience a constant, severe burning or stabbing pain behind or around the eye. The pain can be so severe that most people with cluster headaches cannot sit still and walk during attacks.
This can occur 1-3 times a day, which can last from 2 weeks to 3 months. In this, a headache attack lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Men get it 3-4 times more often than women.
Chronic Headache- Chronic headache refers to headache of almost any type that occurs very frequently, usually at least 15 days a month daily. It can be caused by overuse of painkillers.
New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH)- Headache that starts suddenly and occurs every day for a long period of time is called New Daily Persistent Headache (NDPH). It is a subtype of chronic headache as this lasts at least four hours and occurs at least 15 days a month for up to 3 months or longer.
Secondary headache is an important medical condition. It is rare but can be much more severe than primary headache. Secondary headache can be a warning of a more serious underlying condition, such as-
Brain Tumors- A brain tumor is a clump or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. The skull that surrounds your brain is very hard. Any growth in such a confined space can cause problems.
Meningitis-Meningitis is inflammation of the fluid and membranes that covers the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can occur when the fluid around the meninges becomes infected. Viral and bacterial infections are the common causes of meningitis.
Aneurysm- An aneurysm is widening of an artery caused by weakness in the artery wall. Often, it has no symptoms, but a blowout aneurysm can cause fatal complications.
Cranial neuralgia is inflammation of one of the 12 cranial nerves that radiate from the brain, which controls muscles and carries sensory signals to and from the head and neck.
The most common example is trigeminal neuralgia, which affects the trigeminal nerve (the sensory nerve that connects the face) and can cause severe facial pain when inflamed.
Causes of Headache
Common causes of primary headache includes-
- Stress and anxiety.
- Poor posture.
- Skipping meals.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Hormonal changes.
- Loud sounds.
- Sleep pattern changes.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Physical trauma.
Treatment for Headache
Pain relieving medications are the main treatment for headaches. It includes-
Over-the-counter painkillers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Preventive medications for certain medical conditions, such as migraine.
Treatment for headache related to overuse of medications include reducing or stopping treatment. Your doctor can help you plan for safe medication assistance. In severe cases, a person may require a short stay in the hospital to manage seizures safely and effectively.
Home Remedies of Headache
One of the most common causes of headache is lack of water in our body. Proper hydration plays an important role in our well-being. So keep yourself well hydrated. You should drink enough fluids, which can include fresh juices, water, and coconut water. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee as these drinks contribute to dehydration.
Consuming a healthy diet-
It is important to eat a balanced diet. One should eat at the right time as delay in meals can worsen your health.
The proper functioning of our brain requires glucose, and lack of glucose can lead to hypoglycemia, which in turn causes headache.
Take a nap-
If you feel stressed or low in energy, then relax and close your eyes. This helps release tension and pressure from your body and can help prevent headache.
Try a cold pack-
Place a cold compress on your forehead. Ice cubes wrapped in a towel, a bag of frozen vegetables, or even a cold shower can relieve headache. Keep the compress on your head for 15 minutes and then rest for 15 minutes.
Take a hot shower bath-
This is another effective way to treat headache. Wash your head with warm water. It reduces muscle tension and improves blood circulation.
Head massage is very useful, but massage should be done with soft hands. Apply light pressure to the painful area with your index finger or thumb. Head massage helps relax tense muscles and improves blood circulation.
Headache is usually caused by stress and tension. If the headache is light, smiling and laughing can heal it.
Breathe in and breathe out-
This technique is great for relieving stress and tension. When this is done in fresh air, it is one of the best practices for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When to visit a doctor?
See a doctor right away if you have the worst headache or experiencing loss of vision or consciousness, uncontrollable vomiting, or if the headache lasts for more than 72 hours and is less than 4 hours without any pain.