It is estimated that approximately 45 million Americans complain of headaches each year, which comes to nearly 17% of the population. While some can be minor and go away quickly, others can become serious, and require daily treatment of some sort. The big question is, how do you know what type of headache you have in order to find the correct relief?
There are over twenty different types of headaches, but there are three types that tend to be the most common for sufferers:
Tension headaches are the type that most will experience in their lifetimes and feel like a constant ache or pressure at the temples, back of the head and neck areas. While there are levels of this type of headache based on frequency, they rarely cause any major side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
- Causes of Tension Headaches: The most common cause of a tension headache is stress. Other possible causes can include lack of sleep, clenched jaw, anxiety/depression, and missed meals.
- Treatment for Tension Headaches: Since tension headaches are not typically a sign of anything more severe, treatments such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are the most common and successful.
When the passages that surround the nose, eye, and cheeks, known as the sinus area, become inflamed, a sinus headache may occur. These headaches are painful in the front of the head and face, and tend to have a throbbing sensation. They can also be accompanied by a fever, pain around the nose, fatigue, and ear pain.
- Causes of a Sinus Headache: Most often, sinus headaches are associated with a bad cold and will most likely arrive after the cold is gone. However, they can also be associated with different bacterial infections or allergies, as well as frequent travel by plane.
- Treatment for Sinus Headaches: If you are experiencing a sinus headache, it may require a doctor’s visit. These headaches can be quickly helped by antibiotics to kill any infection and decongestants that will help clear air passages.
While commonly self-diagnosed, migraines often are hereditary and require certain symptoms for medical diagnosis. These symptoms can include consistent pain for 4-72 hours, nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and a throbbing sensation.
- Causes of a Migraine Headache: As mentioned, sources of migraines are often found to be hereditary. It is also said that a dominant cause of migraines is the hyperactivity of one’s brain. If you experience migraines, you may be prone to a large group of “triggers” that include weather changes, changes in sleep patterns, stress, physical activity, and alcohol/drug consumption.
- Treatment for Migraine Headaches: Migraines are recurring, so it is suggested that you begin keeping a journal to understand what triggers these specific headaches. By finding a common theme, sufferers may develop a better routine to allow for fewer attacks on a daily basis. Migraines can also be diagnosed by a doctor, in which case you may be given specific pain medication to help.
Headaches can be aggravating, and oftentimes ruin your daily routines, but they are manageable. If you are experiencing consistent headaches, try to find common symptoms and triggers to help understand the root of the pain. If you experience severe side effects, contact your doctor immediately.