Headaches

There are several different types of headaches. Your treatment options will depend on the type and the severity of your headache.

The vast majority of people suffer from an occasional headache. Some individuals seem to endure more frequent headaches, even every day. There are many factors and situations that bring on a headache. These also contribute to the severity and the duration of the attack. Depending on the kind of headache that you suffer from, appropriate treatment can be administered.

YOU MEAN ALL HEADACHES ARE NOT ALIKE?

Absolutely not. Just as people are individual in their personalities, they also suffer from different kinds of headaches.

WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS KINDS OF HEADACHES?

TENSION-This is probably the most common type of headache. It affects more than two thirds of people worldwide. It is characterized by dull pain or pressure on both sides of the head, and many individuals say it feels like a tight band is wrapped around the head. They can last anywhere from thirty minutes to up to a week. They usually occur infrequently but can progress to chronic tension headaches. Doctors usually define this to mean that the headaches occur at least fifteen days per month.

MIGRAINE-Migraine headaches affect approximately one in eight adults. Women are far more likely to suffer from this type of headache. This type of headache is characterized by moderate to severe pain on one side of the head. It is frequently accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light, sounds or smells. An "aura" can also accompany a migraine headache, though most do not. A migraine usually occurs once a month or less for most sufferers.

SINUS HEADACHE-This is characterized by pain and pressure in the forehead or behind the eyes. It may come on during or on the heels of a cold or sinus infection.

CLUSTER HEADACHE-These headaches are more rare than the other types and mainly affect men. The symptoms are severe pain around or behind one eye. They usually happen at night and wake the person from a sound sleep. They last from 15 to 90 minutes and can occur regularly in groups or clusters every day for weeks at a time. Then, they may spontaneously disappear for a year or more.



HOW CAN YOU TELL IF A HEADACHE IS SEVERE ENOUGH TO WARRANT MEDICAL ATTENTION?

It's important to stress that the vast majority of headaches are self-limiting and will go away with or without treatment. However, a few serious conditions do manifest themselves with a headache. Brain stroke, aneurysm, tumors, and meningitis are a few of the afflictions that do have a headache as a primary or secondary symptom. Below are a few signs to help you decide if you should see a doctor for your headache.

· A headache that is accompanied by a stiff neck or a high fever.

· A headache that includes dizziness, loss of vision or impaired balance.

· A headache that drastically worsens when bending forward.

· Severe headaches that keep on returning

· Headaches that don't go away in spite of self-help solutions.

WHAT KINDS OF THERAPY CAN I USE TO TREAT MY HEADACHES?

This partially depends of the type of headache you are suffering from. Below, are some of the most effective ways to handle the various kinds of headaches.

TENSION: Since this type of pain can be caused by environmental factors, you should evaluate your life and try to come up with any particular triggers that bring a headache on. These may include loud music, emotional stress, fatigue, or bad posture. Relaxation techniques seem to work well with these kinds of headaches. Try a short, quiet walk, a warm bath or a massage. Anything that lowers your stress level will probably offer relief. If these measures don't help, try aspirin or acetaminophen.

MIGRAINE: These types of headaches are caused by an array of triggers. They range from diet to fluctuating hormones to stress. Many times, they are hard to identify and even harder to avoid. If over the counter analgesics don't take away your pain, try drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee when you feel the symptoms coming on. Often, this will dilate the blood vessels and bring relief. If nothing seems to help your migraines, do see a doctor. There are newer prescription drugs available that are specially made to treat migraine pain.

SINUS: There are many good over the counter medications to treat sinus pain. Try them and see what works best for you. However, since this type of headache is often caused by an infection, antibiotics may be needed to bring relief. See your doctor if pain persists.

CLUSTER: There is some evidence that cluster headaches are caused by alcohol consumption or excessive smoking. If you think this may be the cause for your headaches, discontinue the practice. If this doesn't stop your headaches, do see your doctor. Many times, the same medications given for migraines will be effective for cluster headaches. Also, inhaled oxygen seems to help alleviate the pain of an attack.

FINAL WORDS

Most everyone gets a headache at one time or another. Most are not serious and will respond well to self-help therapies. If you can't bring your headaches under control, visit your doctor. Chances are, he can help you, and you won't have to live with pain.

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