Headaches: Types, Causes, and Treatments

Affects people of all ages, races, income levels and geographies, headaches can be a major source of discomfort. A primary headache is caused by hyperactivity or problems with pain-sensitive structures in the head, while a secondary headache is a symptom of an underlying disease. Migraines are the most common type of primary headache and involve severe, shooting pain on one side of the head. They tend to recur and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

Health experts don't fully understand the causes of migraine, but it often runs in families and is more common in people with certain pre-existing conditions, such as depression and epilepsy. People with chronic migraine should talk to a doctor about preventive treatment. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin, are often very effective in stopping or reducing pain. An older adult who experiences unusual headaches for the first time should see a doctor to rule out migraines and cluster headaches.

Medication overuse (MOH) headache is the most common type of secondary headache and involves frequent or daily headaches with symptoms similar to those of tension headaches or migraine. Caffeine withdrawal can cause migraine-like headaches that usually develop 12 to 24 hours after you stop taking it. Hormone-related headaches often develop 2 days before or 3 days after a period or during ovulation. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a throbbing headache the next day or even later that day.

Post-traumatic headaches can also develop months after the original head injury. People have used essential oils throughout history to treat ailments. We analyzed five popular essential oils for treating headaches and migraines. It's important to keep in mind that a migraine isn't just a headache; it is a genetic neurological disease, and since multiple brain networks are involved, symptoms are generally not limited to headache alone.

If you have any type of headache all the time, it's important to talk to your primary care doctor so they can help you create a treatment plan or refer you to a specialist. Since episodes of cluster headache can be separated by years, and since the first headache of a new episode in outbreaks cannot be predicted, daily medication may not be warranted. Learning what these headaches are by keeping a headache log can reduce the number of headaches you have. A true sinus headache is the result of an infection of the sinuses, so the dirt that comes out of the nose will be yellow or green, unlike clear discharge in cluster headaches or migraine headaches. Seek immediate medical attention if you have the worst headache you've ever had, you lose vision or consciousness, have uncontrollable vomiting, or if the headache lasts more than 72 hours without pain in less than 4 hours. Some other headaches are named after the nature of the pain they cause, such as thunder and throbbing headaches. Headaches are a common complaint; the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost half of all adults will have experienced at least one.

Knowing what type of headache you have is key to finding relief from your symptoms and getting back to your life.

Debora Lehneis
Debora Lehneis

Award-winning food advocate. Subtly charming bacon practitioner. Alcohol enthusiast. Proud travel aficionado. Incurable twitter scholar.

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