Headaches are something we’ve all had the displeasure of dealing with at some point in our lives. In fact,according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been estimated that approximately half of the adult population has had at least one headache in the last year. While we can normally muddle through with some over-the-counter aid, certain types of headaches have the ability to be severely painful, distracting and even debilitating.
What are some of the different types of headaches?
There are 150 different types of headaches, but among the most common—and impactful—are migraines, tension-type headaches and medication-overuse headaches (MOH). Different types of headaches include:
- Migraines: a throbbing and pounding sensation that usually occurs on one side of the head, sometimes associated with vision changes, nausea, and sensitivity to light or sound.
- Tension-type headaches: a squeezing or band-like pressure around the forehead. Sometimes have the features of migraines above.
- Cluster headaches: a burning, piercing pain, sometimes associated with tearing of the eye or sweating, that can occur one to three times a day during a two-week to three-month “cluster” period
- Mixed headache syndrome: a combination of migraine and tension-type headaches
- Sinus headaches: which occur when the sinuses become inflamed and cause pain in the bridge of the nose, forehead or cheekbones
- Hormone headaches: affect women during any hormonal change, such as pregnancy, menses or taking birth control pills
It is important to note that any headache can be categorized as chronic if it occurs 15 days or more a month for a minimum of three months. When this happens, it is called a chronic daily headache. These types of headaches affect 1.7 to 4 percent of the adult population worldwide.
What are some of the more common headache triggers?
Though triggers can differ for the variety of headache disorders, some may include:
- Being stressed and/or anxious (anxiety and depression are much more common in those with migraines than those without)
- Dehydration that causes the brain to temporarily shrink from fluid loss and pull away from the skull, resulting in pain
- Environmental factors, such as secondhand smoke, overwhelming chemical or perfume smells or noise/air/light pollution
- Not eating when hungry, causing low sugar and setting off a chain reaction in the body
- Poor posture, which causes unnecessary tension in the muscles of the back and body
- Sensitivity to certain foods that release headache-inducing neurotransmitters, such as caffeine, alcohol and cheese
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Too much or too little physical activity
Who suffers from headaches?
Headaches do not discriminate. This is a worldwide issue that affects people of all ages, races, statuses and geographical areas.
What are some of the headache treatments available?
Treatment mainly depends on the type of headache, cause and frequency. A physician may recommend:
- Medications, such as analgesics, anti-emetics or specific anti-migraine drugs
- Counseling to manage stress and anxiety that is triggering the headache
- Botox injections (typically suggested for chronic migraines)
- Lifestyle changes, like abstaining from alcohol or avoiding certain foods
No matter what kind of issue you may have with headaches, know that there is no need to suffer. Contact a specialist today or ask your physician what you can do to keep pain and other symptoms at bay.