Dr Tendai Zuze
WE all get headaches from time to time and there are different types of the same. Below are defining features of some common types of headache and how to fix them.
Rebound headaches: Much like overuse of nasal decongestants can lead to a perpetually stuffy nose, rebound headaches are chronic headaches caused by medication overuse.Regularly taking any pain reliever like paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen more than twice a week, or taking triptans (migraine drugs) for more than 10 days a month, can put you at risk for rebound headaches in just a few months.
Don’t try to treat these on your own. A doctor can help you stop the culprit drug, using alternatives until it’s out of your system. Tension headaches: This is the most common type of headache, which usually feels like a constant aching or pressure – rather than throbbing – on both sides of the head or at the back of the head and neck.
Triggers can include stress, anxiety, bad posture, and clenching your jaw, and these headaches can become chronic, although they usually aren’t severe. Experts aren’t sure of the exact cause, although it may be due to altered brain chemicals or mixed signals in the nerves leading to the brain.
They usually respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol. Stress-relief may help. Dental headaches: There are dental-related conditions that can trigger headaches or face pain, such as bruxism (night time tooth grinding) and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders which affect the joints located just in front of your ear, which connect the jaw to the skull.
TMJ pain can be caused by bad jaw alignment, stress, poor posture (like sitting at a computer all day), or arthritis, which affect the cartilage, muscles, or ligaments in the jaw. Your dentist can help diagnose these types of headaches, and treatment includes stretching the jaw, hot or cold packs, stress reduction, and bite guards.
Cluster headache: These one-sided headaches are short-lived (15 minutes to three hours), but excruciating. These are so painful they’re sometimes called the suicide headache. Cluster headaches recur regularly, even multiple times daily, over a certain period of time and then may be followed by a headache-free period of months or even years. There may be redness and tearing in one or both eyes. More common in men than women, cluster headaches can be treated with triptans or oxygen (OTC painkillers may not help). Triggers can include alcohol, cigarettes, high altitudes, and certain foods.
Migraines: Migraines are severe headaches that are three times as common in women as men. The cause isn’t clear, but genes do play a role, and brain cell activity may affect blood vessel and nerve cell function. One common migraine trigger is change, including hormones, stress, and sleeping or eating patterns. Avoiding known triggers is the ideal way of preventing migraines. Treatment can include paracetamol, ibuprofen, or triptans, which are drugs that help treat or prevent migraines.
Caffeine headaches: You love your coffee or tea, but these can be cruel companions. For example, if you have two cups of coffee every day at 9am, and then miss those cups when you oversleep on Saturday you can end up with a caffeine withdrawal headache. A lot of local tea drinkers suffer from this condition. The more tea or coffee you drink the more likely you are to get these headaches when you don’t get your daily fix.
For these headaches you have two options. Either you continue with your tea or coffee as before and feed your addiction or you quit altogether. Early morning headaches: If you’re waking up in pain, there are several possible culprits. Migraines are more likely to happen in the morning, or medication may be waning in your body as you sleep, which causes a rebound headache.
Sleep apnoea sufferers may also be more prone to headaches early in the day, as are those with dental headaches. Finally, though this is the lease likely, early morning headaches could be a symptom of a brain tumour. People with migraines often mistake them for sinus headaches. One study found that 88 percent of people with a history of sinus headaches probably had migraines instead. Symptoms like sinus pressure, nasal congestion, and watery eyes can happen in both types of headaches.
Experts think a cold sensation on the roof of the mouth can cause an increase in blood flow to one of the brain’s arteries. To fix these, take a momentary break from the frosty goodness until the pain subsides, or sip warm water to help constrict the brain artery. Chronic daily headaches: If you have a headache at least 15 days per month for more than three months you’re considered to have chronic daily headaches. These could be caused by overuse of pain medications (i.e., rebound headaches), head injury, or in rare cases, meningitis or tumours. If there is no obvious cause, it could be because your body’s pain signals are heightened or not working properly.
These headaches may respond to antidepressants; beta blockers like atenolol, metoprolol, or propranolol (used to treat high blood pressure and migraines); anti-seizure medications like gabapentin or topiramate; and general pain medication. Menstrual headaches: These usually occur between three days before and two days after your period has started. Period related hormone changes can trigger migraines though other women may have PMS-related headaches that aren’t migraines.
Over-the-counter headache remedies and magnesium supplements may help PMS-related head pain. Weekend headaches: Some people may experience headaches that mainly show up on the weekend. These are thought to be caused by oversleeping on weekend mornings, going to bed later at night, or caffeine withdrawal. Also, if your stress level is high all week, the weekend release may trigger a headache.
Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful, as can sticking to your regular sleep-wake schedule. So when should you worry about a headache? Well, most headaches aren’t an emergency, but there are a few symptoms that warrant rapid attention. One is a sudden onset headache that is quickly “explosive.”
Another is when a headache comes with a fever or extreme rise in blood pressure, or if it occurs after a blow to the head or exertion. Other problematic symptoms include vision or speech change, neck stiffness, dizziness, loss of sensation, or muscle weakness on one side of the body.
If you are worried about any sort of headache please visit your doctor.