Headaches are a common and often debilitating condition that can affect people of all ages. There are more than 150 types of headache, and each type has its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatments. In this article, we'll explore the different types of headache, their symptoms, and how to find the right treatment for you. Primary headaches are those that are not caused by another medical condition. Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache, affecting up to two-thirds of American adults.
These headaches are usually caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck, and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Lifestyle changes such as relaxation techniques and exercise can also help reduce tension headaches. Migraine headaches are another type of primary headache. They can cause moderate to severe pain, often localized to one side of the head. Migraines may be triggered by lack of sleep or certain foods such as cheese or chocolate.
Treatment for migraines may include over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, or oxygen therapy. Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify your triggers. Cluster headaches are a type of primary headache that occur in episodes lasting from 4 to 72 hours. They tend to recur at the same time every day and can be treated with medications or oxygen therapy. Rebound headaches, also known as medication overuse headaches, can occur if you take painkillers often and stop them suddenly or take them irregularly. Secondary headaches are those caused by another medical condition such as sinusitis or giant cell arteritis (GCA).
Sinus headaches are caused by an infection of the sinuses and can be mistaken for tension or migraine headaches. GCA is a rare condition that affects adults over 50 years old and can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated. Hypnotic headaches are harmless but should be discussed with a doctor if they occur in an older adult for the first time. Other types of headache can be caused by painful cranial neuropathies such as trigeminal neuralgia or occipital neuralgia. Thunder headaches are an extremely severe type of headache that appears quickly and reaches its maximum intensity in less than a minute. If you experience frequent episodes of headache, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider so they can help you determine what type you have and what treatments may be best for you.
If your symptoms get worse or occur more often despite treatment, ask your doctor to refer you to a headache specialist.