Different Types Of Headaches And Their Causes

Different types of headaches & causes? Discover the three major types of headaches, their causes and treatments; and how keeping a headache log can help you.

You set down your coffee, sigh, and rub your temples.

You have another headache. They always seem to come at this time of the day, and it's difficult to get anything accomplished. Once again, you reach for the acetominiphen.

Knowing what type of headache you have and what causes it can be the most important step you take in helping to avoid or completely eliminate headache suffering. One of the most accurate ways of identifying what triggers your headaches is to keep a log of when your headaches occur and what you had just done or ingested in the preceding two hours. Many people find that caffeine causes sharp, painful headaches; while others who are more tolerant to caffiene's effects may not notice any pain at all.

Cleaning with certain chemicals, painting, smoking, or eating certain foods can bring on headaches to people who are sensitive to those things. Physical factors such as menstruation, blood sugar level, and blood pressure can also cause severe headaches. Keeping a log also helps to track down habits that can be affecting you adversely.



For example, it seems as though everyday when you return to work from lunch you contract a headache within half an hour. You've always assumed that this is brought on by the stress of having to "get back to work". However, when viewing your headache log, you see that at the end of lunch every day you enjoy a nice frothy cappucino while chatting with your co-workers. As a test, the next day you cut out the cappucino and have a glass of icewater instead. The afternoon passes with no headache. Using your headache log, you were successfully able to identify what was triggering your afternoon headache and now know how to avoid it.

The three most common groups of recurring headaches are sinus, tension, and vascular. Some of these may require medical attention, so if you notice a pattern or suffer from headaches regularly, check with your doctor.

Sinus headaches are brought on by allergies, hay fever, cold, dry weather; anything that adversely affects the sinus cavity. These headaches are characterized by pain that is seemingly "behind the face"; eyes, nose, forehead. Usually they are coupled with congestion and blowing your nose or even trying to breathe through the nose can make the pain worse. The sinus cavities are swelling, which results in pressure being applied to the nerves and tissues directly behind the face. The most common relief for sinus headaches is a decongestant, although for serious infections such as sinusitis, antibiotics from your family doctor may be required.

Tension headaches arise from stress, anxiety, and generally tense muscles. The pain seems to start at the base of the head and radiate upwards onto the scalp. It may hurt to touch the scalp directly. Chronic tension headaches can result from poor posture, such as slouching in front of a desk. Most sufferers turn to ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetominophen to relieve pain temporarily. However, a more permanent remedy is to focus on relaxation, perhaps even massage or meditation to relieve stress and anxiety before the headaches start. A visit to the chiropractor can also help, by making sure the spine and surrounding muscles are in proper alignment so that no undue pressure is being applied.

Perhaps the most painful group of headaches are known as vascular headaches. These affect the blood vessels in the brain by either over-expanding or contracting the vascular pathways in the brain, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves. Headaches brought on by blood pressure and low blood sugar fall into this group, as do migraines. Vascular headaches are commonly identified by sharp, stabbing pains and throbbing. Vision can be affected, with dots or bright flashes of light being seen before the headache arrives full-force. Enviromental factors such as noises, light, and even smells can make the headaches worse, sometimes resulting in fainting or vomiting. Taking aspirin, which thins the blood, and drinking water to rehydrate the body can relieve these headaches somewhat and shorten their duration. However, if you frequently suffer vascular headaches, you should see your doctor for more effective treatment.

If you suffer from headaches regularly, it is very important to keep a headache log so that you can identify and avoid headache triggers. Your doctor can go over this log with you and suggest changes in diet or habit, or even prescribe drugs; the log will assist your doctor greatly. Using this record of your headaches, with a description of the pain and factors that may have caused it, can empower you to take control and become headache free.

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