Headaches are one of the most commonly experienced pain. Headache can be occasional, periodic or chronic in nature.
Headache is experienced through pain-sensitive structures around the head and neck including blood vessels, nerves, muscles and tissues, including the eyes, ears and sinuses. It can range in intensity from mild to tolerable to severe pain that does not allow daily activities. When headaches are recurrent and interfere with function, they become a disorder.
Headache is experienced through pain-sensitive structures around the head and neck. It includes blood vessels, nerves, muscles, tissues as well as the eyes, ears and sinuses. It can range in pain intensity from mild to tolerable to severe that hinders daily activities. When headaches are recurrent and interfere with function, they become a disorder.
Types of Headaches
Primary headache where no disease is present that is causing the headache, this includes
- Tension Type Headache
- Cluster Headaches
Secondary headache have their origin in other illnesses like an infection or tumour. Also overuse of pain medication can cause headache.
Many patients associate severe headache with migraine, but the amount of pain does not determine the diagnosis of migraine. Migraine is a headache that tends to come repeatedly in a person and is moderate to severe if left untreated.
Clinically, migraine is described as a recurrent headache lasting from couple of hours to three days. Usually it has one-sided pulsating pain, which varies from moderate to severe intensity.
Symptoms of Migraine
- Sensitivity to light, noise and odours
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach upset, abdominal pain, loss of appetite
- Sensations of being very warm or cold
- Paleness (pallor), fatigue, dizziness
- Blurred vision, diarrhoea (rare), fever (rare)
Causes of Migraine
Exact causes for migraine are unknown, although they are related to changes in the brain as well as to genetic causes. Pain of migraine can be aggravated by routine physical activities. It can be associated with light, sound, and even smell sensitivity which may lead to nausea and dizziness. In few cases there can be visual or sensory changes before, during or after the headache, known as auras. Migraines occur about three times more frequently in women than in men. Many migraines seem to be influenced by external factors. Possible factors include:
- Emotional stress
- Sensitivity to specific chemicals and preservatives in foods
- Caffeine, menstrual periods
- Tension, excessive fatigue
- Missing meals
- Changes in normal sleep pattern
Treatment of Migraine
Treatment often falls into three categories:
can be classified as preventive or abortive.
Preventive medications help prevent headaches which are frequent, long lasting and/or severe enough to change activities of daily living, family / social interactions and ability to work.
Abortive medications help in controlling headaches. These medications include various forms of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
include dietary avoidance, stress reduction techniques and avoidance of headache triggers.
Physical therapy and exercise
includes combination of stretching and other exercises aimed at alleviating muscle soreness in the head and neck.
usually works wonders and incorporates a combination of above treatment modes and is effective in headache treatment.
TENSION TYPE HEADACHE (TTH)
Tension type headaches are the most common type of headache and as many as 30% to 78% of the general population experience it at some time during their lifetime.Tension Type headache is a mild intensity headache that often feels like a pressure or a tight band around the head. Generally, tension headaches involve both sides of the head and can last hours to days.
Cause of TTH
Tension type headaches may be as common as a stressful work environment or a difficult personal relationship. They are not as severe as migraines and do not usually cause nausea or vomiting.
Treatment for TTH
Treatment for tension type headaches can vary but often includes anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants and pain medication to control the headache. Great deal of attention has to be paid to stress management and physical conditions that may bring on and/or maintain the headache.
Cluster headachesare a rare type of primary headache which appear suddenly and are experienced as severe debilitating pain on one side of the head, usually behind the eye or around the temple and are often accompanied by a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose on the same side of the face.
Each headache lasts typically 30-45 minutes and often recurs at least once during the day, often at similar times. The headaches cluster in period of weeks and then goes away. A person can be pain free for months to years.
Causes of Cluster Headaches
Cause for cluster headaches are unknown, but there may be a genetic component. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s though women and children can also suffer from this type of headache.
Treatment of Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are treated by medications and at times an acute attack may require hospital admission for management.
Organic headache is experienced as sudden, sharp, intense or severe pain. Sudden lack of balance or falling, inappropriate behaviour, seizures, difficulty in speaking can also be associated with this type of headache.
This type of headache ismainly caused due to underlying medical disorders such as infection, tumouror stroke. Immediate medical attention is suggested in these cases.
REBOUND HEADACHE/ MEDICATION OVERUSEHEADACHE
Overuse of painkillers for headaches can ironically lead to rebound headaches. Also, over-use of medications (exceeding labelling instructions or physician's advice) can precipitate a "rebound" into another episode of headache.
Over-use of medicines can result in addiction with more severe pain when they wear off and possible serious side-effects.
Sinus headaches are related with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The pain usually intensifies with sudden head movement or straining. When a sinus becomes inflamed often due to an infection or allergic reaction it can cause pain.
Treatment for sinus is aimed at treating the infection and alleviation of other symptoms.If patient does have a true sinus headache and takes wrong medicines, it will worsen the headache.
Acute headaches are observed in children. These headaches occur suddenly and have symptoms that recede after a fairly short period of time.
If there are no neurological signs or symptoms the most common cause for acute headaches in children and adolescents is a respiratory or sinus infection. Children often experience acute pain as a manifestation of study related stress.