Types of Headaches & Its Symptoms, Treatment

Headache is characterized by an uncomfortable and throbbing pain which is enough to distract you from your daily chores. Headache is so common that World Health Organization has revealed everyone to have fallen prey to the same once in a while. It is important to know about the various types of headaches, their symptoms and treatment options.

Types of Headaches & Its Symptoms, Treatment

Types of Headaches & Its Symptoms and Treatment

Headaches are often defined as a painful sensation which can affect any portion of our head. However, the duration, cause and intensity of the pain vary according to the headache type. In most cases, headaches get better on their own, but some may need treatment. If your headache belongs to a category which is not severe, then you can easily resort to home remedies and natural solutions. Let us understand the various types of headaches, their symptoms and treatment options.

Following are the various types of headaches along with their best possible treatments.

Primary Headaches & its Symptoms and Treatment

Primary headaches are one of the common types of headaches. They occur when the headache is not triggered by any corollary condition but is the main reason behind your discomfort. Such headaches can either be chronic (occurring for a long span of time making pain management an utmost necessity) or episodic (occurring once in a while and disappearing within hours of its occurrence).

  • Tension Headaches – Tension headaches are one of the commonest types of headaches. They are characterized by an aching sensation all around your head which is not similar to throbbing. Other symptoms of tension headaches also include sensitivity or tenderness around forehead, neck, shoulder muscles or scalp.

The main treatment options for tension headaches involves the use of pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medicines. If the tension headache takes up a chronic form then a different action plan may be suggested which tries to uproot the trigger in its entirety.

  • Migraines – One of the common types of headaches is migraine, which incapacitates your daily functionality.They are accompanied by an intense pulsing feel and can be your constant companion for a long stretch of time. Usually limited to one side, this throbbing feel is common amongst people who are sensitive to sound and light. Other important symptoms of migraine include discomfort with nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances at the onset of migraine in the form of stars, flashing lights, zigzag lines, blind spots and shimmering lights. You might also face difficulty in speaking or experience a tingling sensation in one arm or a side of your face. The symptoms of migraine can seem very annoying and sometimes can be similar to that of a stroke. Hence it is imperative to seek out immediate medical help if you are unsure of your exact health condition. Various factors like dehydration, sleep disruption, skipping of meals, exposure to chemicals, hormone fluctuations and certain foods might act as common migraine triggers.

The treatment for migraine includes pain-relieving medicines and triptans, if pain relievers fail to reduce your discomfort. Triptans are known to change the course of blood flow within your brain and can also decrease inflammation. They can be taken in the form of injections, pills and nasal sprays. Yoga, relaxation techniques, acupuncture and modified diet can help beat migraine headaches. Preventive medicines that help to prevent migraine episodes are also beneficial, hence it is best to seek medical advice and get the right treatment.

  • Cluster headaches – Cluster headache, another type of headache, is often felt with burning sensation. The main symptoms of cluster headache is pain, which usually stays concentrated on one side of the face or behind one eye. Redness, swelling, sweating and flushing may crop up. Such headaches happen in a particular pattern with each lasting from about fifteen minutes to a stretch of approximately three hours. The second headache doesn’t take long to follow the first one and can continue for over a month. Such headaches do not bring along any other adverse symptoms and are most rampant during fall and spring seasons.

The treatment for cluster headache may include anything between local anesthetics, triptans or oxygen therapy to help fight the pain, depending on the severity of the symptoms. For this type of headache too, there are preventive medicines, which may be considered once the diagnosis is confirmed.

Secondary Headaches & Its Symptoms and Treatment

A headache triggered by any other corollary health condition is termed as secondary headache. If the scenarios causing such headaches keep on recurring then it might soon take up a chronic shape. For getting instant relief it is necessary to address the cause triggering such headaches. Following are the various types of secondary headache which an individual might experience:

  • Hormone Headaches – Hormonal fluctuations in women caused by birth control pills, menstruation and pregnancy can cause an imbalance in estrogen levels which has for long been linked with headaches. These are some of the commonest types of headaches. The symptoms of hormone headaches also include mood swings, appetite changes or menstrual complaints in women.

Treatment of hormone headaches include pain relievers and prescription medicines such as frovatripan. Yoga, relaxation techniques, acupuncture and lifestyle changes are also some of the effective treatment options for hormone headaches.

  • Sinus or Allergy Headaches – Allergic reaction might sometimes act as a breeding ground for painful headaches. Sinus or allergy headaches are some of these types of headaches. They are often seen with other types like migraine headaches. People suffering from sinusitis or chronic seasonal allergies are most vulnerable to episodes of such types of headaches. The symptoms of sinus headaches includes pain in the front portion of your head and the sinus area.

Treatment of sinus or allergy headaches includes the use of decongestants like phenylephrine, nasal sprays or antihistamines like cetirizine. If it is related to sinus infection, antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor.

  • Caffeine Headaches – A hot cup of coffee sounds like the ultimate relaxing companion on a chilly weekend morning. But did you know that caffeine consumption affects the flow of blood directed at our brain. Excess caffeine intake can pave the path for headaches, chances of which increase in people suffering from frequent migraines. On the other hand, when your brain becomes accustomed to a certain portion of caffeine intake on a daily basis, it might revolt in the form of headache if the caffeine intake falls below the stipulated level suddenly. Caffeine headaches are another such types of headaches and their symptoms include headache associated with less or excessive intake of caffeine.

Treatment options for caffeine headache may include painkillers, if needed. However, the main aim is to control the intake of caffeine and finally quit caffeine intake.

  • Hypertension Headaches – Headache triggered by high blood pressure needs to be treated immediately. Such types of headaches usually occur when blood pressure crosses over the safety line and creates excessive pressure. The symptoms are pain in the head, often bearing a pulsating quality, the hypertension headache brings along a bevy of symptoms such as nosebleeds, changes in vision, chest pain, tingling or numbness or shortness of breath.

Treatment of hypertension headaches includes medicines that control pain and lower the blood pressure and can be prevented by maintaining blood pressure within normal limits.

  • Post-traumatic Headaches – In cases where an individual suffers from a deep impact of trauma, violent pangs of headaches are experienced. Such types of headaches might develop in the aftermath of a head injury and lasts for about six to twelve hours. The symptoms of post traumatic headache appear like tension-type headaches and migraines and has a tendency to take up a chronic form.

Treatment of this type of headache may need prescription medicines like amitriptyline, triptans, beta-blockers and sumatriptan.

  • Exertion Headaches – Ever experienced excruciating pain around your temples in the aftermath of intense physical workouts? Well, it just might be an attack of exertion headache. Yes, this too is one of the types of headaches. The symptoms of exertion headaches are similar to other headaches but occur after exertion. Running, weight lifting and sexual intercourse might act as a trigger causing such a headache as these activities increase the stream of blood flow into our skull leading to a throbbing pain. But the good thing is that such headaches do not stay for long and usually bid goodbye in an hour or two.

Treatment of exertion headaches includes analgesics like ibuprofen and aspirin. It is important to ensure proper intake of food and water to manage or prevent such headaches. For some, relaxation and rest can help, while for some, it may be an indication of an underlying problem that needs medical attention.

  • Rebound Headaches – Also termed as medication overuse headaches, rebound headaches are one of the common types of headaches. The symptoms of rebound headaches range from being a dull and more of a tension type headache to being an intensely painful one, much like migraines. Pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprofen taken for more than half a month makes our body vulnerable to the attack of rebound headaches. They might also crop up from adverse reaction caused by medicines bearing high caffeine content.

Treatment of rebound headaches, clear up your body and cease your intake of similar pain relieving medications. You may consider preventive medicines for headaches, if found appropriate by your doctor.

When Should You Visit the Doctor?

Episodic headaches usually don’t stay longer than 48 hours but in case you have one which keeps on increasing with every passing moment or lasts for more than two days, you should immediately seek out the doctor’s assistance. If you fall prey to a chronic headache condition then you might end up having throbbing temples for more than half a month. In such a case you should consult your doctor even if the pain subsides momentarily after taking painkillers. There are various treatment options for different type of headaches and the most appropriate ones can be considered by the doctor.

Some of the warning signs, which may be noted with worsening of any of the types of headache are given here. These may signal an underlying medical condition that need immediate medical attention. See a doctor immediately if you notice the following signs and symptoms with headache.

Now that you are aware of the different types of headaches, their symptoms and treatment, you can make a note of your complaints and discuss with your doctor.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 3, 2018

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