Headaches are a common health issue that can range from mild to severe. There are seven main types of headaches, each with its own set of causes, symptoms, and treatments. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are usually caused by stress or muscle tension and can be felt as a dull, aching sensation throughout the body.
Pain may also occur around the muscles of the neck, forehead, or shoulders. Most tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Sinus headaches occur when the sinus cavity becomes inflamed due to allergies, illnesses, or dry weather. They are associated with deep, persistent pain in the cheekbones, forehead or bridge of the nose.
Sinus headaches can be treated with decongestants, antihistamines, and prescription steroid nasal sprays. Exertional headaches occur immediately after periods of intense physical activity such as running, lifting weights, or having sex. These short-term, stabbing headaches can be treated with OTC pain relievers and melatonin. Migraines are a type of headache that can cause throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, and sensitivity to light, noise, or smell.
Migraines may be preceded by visual disturbances such as halos, flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots. Over-the-counter pain relievers and relaxation techniques can help reduce or prevent migraines. Hormonal headaches are often experienced by women due to fluctuations in estrogen levels during menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and hormonal contraceptives. OTC pain relievers and melatonin may help relieve symptoms.
Cluster headaches are a rare type of headache disorder that consists of severe burning or throbbing pain around or behind an eye or side of the face. Cluster headache can be treated with oxygen therapy, steroid injections, oral steroids (commonly prednisone), and melatonin. When treating any type of headache it is important to keep track of your results in a headache log to measure progress. Some types of headache can be prevented with medicines while others can be caused by the same medicine. However, repeated attacks or certain types of headaches may indicate a more serious health condition.