Headaches are one of the most common complaints patients present within primary care settings. They are often correlated with stress, tension, and a litany of existing medical conditions. Often, patients will live with headache pain for months or even years before seeking care. Over the counter remedies like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are often used to reduce symptoms of pressure and pain prior to seeking medical advice. The following information is intended for patients that suffer from chronic headache pain and is looking for ways to better manage symptoms, increase function, and improve quality of life. A headache is a headache is a headache…..Right?
There are actually two main types of headache, primary and secondary, and can differ greatly in intensity, frequency, and duration.
Primary: headaches include, but are not limited to, tension-type and migraine headaches and are not caused by other underlying medical conditions. Over 90% of headaches are considered primary.
Secondary: headaches result from other medical conditions, such as infection or increased pressure in the skull due to tumor, disease, etc. These account for fewer than 10% of all headaches.
Types of Headaches
These headaches are the most common, affecting upwards of 75% of all headache sufferers.
As many as 90% of adults have had tension-type headache
These headaches are typically a steady ache rather than a throbbing one and affect both sides of the head
Distracting but usually not debilitating
People can get tension-type (and migraine) headaches in response to stressful events or a hectic day
These headaches may also be chronic, occurring as frequently as every day
Less common than tension-type headaches, migraines affect approximately 25 to 30 million people and cause considerably more disability, lost workdays, and lost revenue.
As many as 6% of all men and up to 18% of all women experience a migraine headache at some time
Roughly three out of four migraine sufferers are female
Among the most distinguishing features is the potential disability accompanying the headache pain of a migraine
Migraines are felt on one side of the head by about 60% of migraine sufferers, and the pain is typically throbbing in nature
Nausea, with or without vomiting, as well as sensitivity to light and sound often accompanies migraines
An aura --a group of telltale neurological symptoms--sometimes occurs before the head pain begins. Typically, an aura involves a disturbance in vision that may consist of brightly colored or blinking lights in a pattern that moves across the field of vision
About one in five migraine sufferers experiences an aura
Usually, migraine attacks are occasional, or sometimes as often as once or twice a week, but not daily Headache Triggers Many things can cause a headache, thus it is important for you to become aware of the factors in your life that may contribute to your suffering, and, if possible, make changes to minimize the chances of continued suffering. Some examples of factors that can cause headache are outlined below:
Emotional Factors: Stress (work, home, family), depression, anxiety, frustration, let down, even positive excitement
Dietary Factors: Alcohol, aspartame, cheese, chocolate, caffeine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), processed meats containing nitrates
Physical Factors: Getting too much or too little sleep, too much physical exertion, injuries, skipping meals
Environmental Factors: Glare from the sun or bright lights, changes in the weather, strong odors, smog
Hormonal Events: Menstruation, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapies, menopause Treatment of Headaches There are a number of medications, such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, or antihypertensives can help with migraine and/or tension headaches.
you can sometimes prevent headaches if you recognize the triggers and avoid them; keeping a headache diary may help you spot triggers
pain relief medicines may be effective but rest is also helpful
drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet
sinus headaches may require special medicines; check with your pharmacist
if your headache is part of a cold and you take multiple medicines containing paracetamol, be careful not to exceed the safe daily dose of paracetamol
have your eyes checked if you do a lot of computer work
check your posture if you have a desk job, especially if you have shoulder aches and pains
it is important to know what type of headache you have and if you need to see a doctor
some pain relievers are not suitable for everyone.
Headache is a symptom and not a diagnosis, visit us and we shall try our best to help you treat the cause of your headache .