9 Common Types Of Headaches, Their Surprising Symptoms And How To Prevent Them
Headaches are a painful condition that can be very complex. There are about 150 different types of headaches, affecting all ages, from children and teenagers, to adults and elderly people. When a person has a headache, he/she can hardly think of anything else. It occupies the mind, time and energy. It reduces the ability to work and can affect the relationships with others.
What’s interesting is that when we have a headache, the brain itself does not feel pain, because it has no pain receptors. The pain is associated with the pressure on other structures, such as the blood vessels, nerves, skull, sinuses and the brain membrane.
Your doctor should evaluate every problem associated with headaches. Especially when it comes to pain accompanied by convulsions; mental confusion; after a blow to the head; frequent change of magnitude and nature; coughing; localized at one part of the head; accompanied with fiver and stiffness; when it requires higher doses of pain relief medicines; or is linked to a particular lifestyle or occupation.
In order to properly treat your headache, you need to know its type and what’s causing it. When assessing your headache, you need to answer a number of questions:
- How long do you suffer from headaches? Where is the pain located? What is the frequency?
- Do you have more than one type of headache?
- Did it change in nature recently?
- Is the pain sharp or dull?
- At what time of the day do they begin?
- How long do they last?
- Is the headache mild or severe, acute or chronic?
- Have you tried any pain relief medications?
- Are there any other symptoms?
- Do you have a disease?
- Are you currently under stress, or have you experienced a trauma recently?
- Any change in appetite?
Headaches may indicate greater health problems, so do not ignore the warning signs.
9 Common Types Of Headaches And Their Symptoms
1. Tension Headaches
The most common form of headache is the one that feels like a persistent tension and pain. Such headache may be of chronic type and a consequence of stressful periods. It’s usually localized to the front or back of the head, creating constant pressure that can last for hours and days. At the end of the day, it may become more intense. Also, it can repeat regularly, for weeks, months or years. It’s often accompanied with stiff muscles on the face, neck, shoulders or jaw.
The most common causes are standing too long in lines, conflict, taking tests and exams, driving in heavy traffic, noisy environment, etc.
This type of headache occurs in the form of severe, throbbing pain. Usually it affects one side of the head, but it can also be bilateral and move from side to side. It’s often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and it appears at irregular intervals, which can last from several hours to 3 consequential days. The recurring irregular intervals can sometimes last for months.
Most affected is the area around the eyes. Such headaches can be disabling to the point that a person cannot function normally and work. Classical migraine symptoms are vomiting and nausea, appetite loss and stomach pain.
Migraines are often hereditary (in 60 to 70 percent of cases). Specific lifestyle can also cause migraines, such as skipping meals, constant exposure to stress or fatigue, exhausting exercise, smoking and insufficient sleep. Some foods that contain chemical substances can also trigger a migraine in some people. Other causes include allergies, air pressure and various pollutants.
3. Mixed Headache Syndrome
This is a combined headache, a mixture of tension headache and migraine. It can affect both, children and adults, and it’s also known under the name transformed migraine.
4. Cluster Headaches
This type of headache comes in short bursts, as a burning pain in the area of the eyes, usually without warning. The pain is severe and persistent, and can sometimes disturb the vision, cause nosebleed and tearing of the eyes. This is the most painful type of all headaches, and the least common.
This headache occurs in clusters, so you can be affected by it up to 3 times a day, in a period starting from 2 weeks to several months. Sometimes, it can go into remission for months or even years, and then come back again.
Cluster headaches are often the cause of alcohol abuse, excessive smoking, specific foods and stress. Usually, it’s not associated with family history.
5. Sinus And Allergy Headaches
Allergies caused by pollen, dust, feathers, animal hair or food can cause a headache. The most common causes of this type of headache are allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, and acute sinus infections, when the sinus drainage is disabled due to colds, allergies or bacterial infections.
6. Hormonal Headaches
Due to the changing hormonal levels during menstruation, menopause and pregnancy, women often suffer from headaches. The use of contraceptive pills can also lead to a hormonal instability and trigger pain in the head.
7. Head Trauma
Headaches due to head trauma appear as a constant dull pain. Usually, they begin on the same day of the head injury. The following problems may also occur: disturbances in memory, concentration, emotional instability, irritability and loss of balance.
8. High Pressure Headaches
In most cases, there are no visible symptoms suggestive of high blood pressure. That’s why high blood pressure is known as a ‘silent killer’. However, if the blood pressure is very high (systolic over 180 and diastolic over 100), it’s often accompanied with a headache, especially early in the morning, after waking up.
9. Psychological Dimension
Certain psychological problems can be the cause of a headache. Thus, anxiety can contribute to tension in the muscles and cause pain in the head. In about 90 percent of people with chronic headaches, the main causes are suppressed anger, some kind of internal conflict or stressful feelings.
Prevention is the best medicine. You can reduce your chances of getting a headache if you follow some of these advices:
- Sleep seven to eight hours a day.
- Eat regularly, at least 3 meals a day. Don’t skip breakfast!
- Avoid smoking and smoky environments.
- Avoid alcohol and excessive intake of fatty and processed foods.
- Exercise regularly, to improve your blood circulation and alleviate stress.
Stress relief and healthy lifestyle changes should be your long-term goals. You can start immediately, by undertaking some dietary changes. What you should also know is that some foods contain certain chemicals that can cause headaches in people who are prone to having them. If you’re one of them, you should reduce, or completely remove, some foods from your diet. Some of those are: cheese, alcohol, bacon, chicken liver, foods with a large percentage of sodium glutamate (a common ingredient in Chinese food), chocolate, citrus fruits and juices (orange, lemon, grapefruit). Also, leave out coffee (caffeinated and decaf) and tea (black, Indian, etc.). Also, you should stop eating salami and sausages, smoked fish and hot dogs.