Headaches can be more complicated than most people realise. Different kinds can have their own set of symptoms, happen for unique reasons, and need different treatments. Once you know the type of headache you have, you and your doctor can find the treatment that’s most likely to help and even try to prevent them. Because less than 1% of all headaches are life-threatening, the challenge is to reassure and appropriately treat patients with benign headaches while finding the rare, life-threatening headache without excessive evaluation.
Headaches are classified as primary or secondary. Primary headaches are syndromes unto themselves rather than signs of other diseases. Although potentially disabling, they are reliably not life-threatening. Secondary headaches are symptoms of other illnesses. Unlike primary headaches, secondary headaches are potentially dangerous.
Causes of headache
It’s hard to think about the causes of headaches when you’re struggling with pain. Once you’re feeling better, figuring out what leads to the agony can help you dodge it in the future. This requires you to pay attention to the environment, eating habits, and activities that spark headache discomfort.
The most common types of headaches are sinus, tension, and migraine headaches. Sinus headaches usually occur when there is infection or pressure in the sinuses. Tension headaches strike when the muscles in the head and neck tighten. Migraines come on when super-sensitive nerve endings in the brain create pain.
Primary headaches: Primary headaches are stand-alone illnesses caused directly by the overactivity of, or problems with, structures in the head that are pain-sensitive. This includes the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves of the head and neck. They may also result from changes in chemical activity in the brain. Common primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches.
Secondary headaches: Secondary headaches are symptoms that happen when another condition stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. In other words, headache symptoms can be attributed to another cause.
A wide range of different factors can cause secondary headaches including alcohol-induced hangover, brain tumour, blood clots, bleeding in or around the brain, Glaucoma etc.
As headaches can be a symptom of a serious condition, it is important to seek medical advice if they become more severe, regular, or persistent. For example, if a headache is more painful and disruptive than previous headaches, worsens, or fails to improve with medication or is accompanied by other symptoms such as confusion, fever, sensory changes, and stiffness in the neck, a doctor should be contacted immediately
Types of Headaches
Headaches can radiate across the head from a central point or have a vice-like quality. They can be sharp, throbbing or dull, appear gradually or suddenly. They can last from less than an hour up to several days.
Tension headache: There may be general, mild to moderate pain that can feel like a band around the head. They tend to affect both sides of the head.
Migraine headache: There is often severe throbbing pain in one part of the head, often the front or the side. There may be nausea and vomiting, and the person may feel especially sensitive to light or noise.
Cluster headaches: These can cause intense pain, often around one eye. They usually happen around a particular time of year, possibly over a period of 1 to 2 months.
Chronic Daily Headaches: You have this type of headache 15 days or more a month for longer than 3 months. Some are short. Others last more than 4 hours. It’s usually one of the four types of primary headache:
- Chronic migraine
- Chronic tension headache
- New daily persistent headache
- Hemicrania continua
Hormone Headaches: You can get headaches from shifting hormone levels during your periods, pregnancy, and menopause. The hormone changes from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also trigger headaches. When they happen 2 days before your period or in the first 3 days after it starts, they’re called menstrual migraines.
Diagnosis of Headaches
A doctor will usually be able to diagnose a particular type of headache through a description of the condition, the type of pain, and the timing and pattern of attacks. If the nature of the headache appears to be complex, tests may be carried out to eliminate more serious causes. The correct diagnosis of a headache is necessary in order to begin an effective treatment plan. Early visits to your doctor are made to establish what type or classification of headache you have. Diagnostic testing may include the following imaging tests:
- Blood chemistry and urinalysis:
- Computed tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Sinus X-ray
- Ophthalmology evaluation
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
Treatment for Headaches
Treatment for an underlying condition often stops frequent headaches. If no such condition is found, treatment focuses on preventing pain. Prevention strategies vary, depending on the type of headache you have and whether medication overuse is contributing to your headaches. If you’re taking pain relievers more than three days a week, the first step might be to wean yourself off these drugs with your doctor’s guidance. When you’re ready to begin preventive therapy, your doctor may recommend:
- Anti-seizure medications
- Botulinum toxin
Once you start a treatment program, keep track of how well it’s working. If you are particular you can keep a headache diary to check its progress. It’s important to do things that may cause a headache for you like a particular food or smell or similar things. It’s also important to stick to healthy habits that will keep you feeling good, like regular exercise, enough sleep, and a healthy diet. Always make sure that you are regular with your appointments with the doctor. For better treatment related to headaches, Medisys Hospitals is the best Neurology hospital in Hyderabad offer a wide range of specialised treatments which could help you lead a normal life.