Headaches are on top of the list of the common medical
complaints that people from all over the world experience at some point in
life. According to the World Health Organization, almost half of the adults in
the world experience headaches in any given year.
Headaches cause a pulsing sensation or throbbing pain in the
head and may be accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, or
heightened sensitivity to sound and light depending on the severity.
A headache may occur in one location of the head, one side,
or on both sides of your head. Depending on what causes them, headaches are
1. Primary headaches
A primary headache occurs as a result of a problem with the blood
vessels, nerves, and chemicals that set off pain signals in the brain. Primary
headaches are not a symptom of any underlying diseases.
Chemical activity in the brain, blood vessels or nerves in
the head, and the muscles of the head can play a key role in setting off
primary headaches. Some people also have genes that make them more susceptible
to primary headaches. Primary headaches can also be caused by lifestyle
patterns such as stress, skipping meals, poor posture, sleeping habits, among
others. The most common types of
primary headaches are migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.
2. Secondary headaches
These are headaches that arise as a symptom of an underlying illness
that can activate nerves in the head. Such illnesses include brain tumors,
blood clots, glaucoma, dehydration, concussion, stroke, influenza, among many
Types of headaches
1. Tension headaches
These are the most common and can either be episodic or chronic. Tension
headaches normally start gradually in the middle of the day and can last
anywhere from a few hours up to several days. Tension headache feel like a
constant, dull ache coming from both sides of your head and spreading to or
from the neck.
2. Migraines This is
probably the worst kind of headache. Migraines cause a severe pulsating,
throbbing pain on one side of your head. Such pain may be accompanied by
light-headedness, nausea, blurred vision, or sensory disturbances referred to
as auras. Migraines can last a few hours or even go on for 2-3 days. Migraines
are one of the common reasons for sick leaves.
3. Cluster headaches
These are severe, one-sided headaches that last between 15 minutes and 3
hours. They may occur once suddenly per day or up to eight times each day for a
period of weeks or longer. Cluster headaches are often described as a sharp,
burning pain that typically affects the area around one eye.
4. Rebound headaches
These arise as a result of excessive use of medication in an effort to
treat headache symptoms.
5. Thunderclap Headaches
These are severe, sudden headaches that result in unimaginable pain.
They reach their maximum intensity in a minute or less and last longer than 5
minutes. They are usually as a result of other life-threatening conditions and
people who experience them should seek medical attention immediately.
Treatment of headaches
There are many ways to deal with headaches. The most common
way is by resting until the headache is gone or taking pain relief medication
for quicker results. You can get such medication over the counter or from a
doctor but you must always follow the instructions to avoid rebound headaches
or worse complications.
There are other ways to treat headaches, but you need to
first consult your doctor before trying them. They include: a) acupuncture b) nutritional and herbal health
products c) cognitive behavioural
therapy d) hypnosis e) meditation.
Headaches can be both worrying and debilitating but there are remedies available and we would always recommend that you refer to your doctor if they persist or you have any concerns at all.
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