Headaches can affect anyone regardless of gender, age and race. They can indicate emotional distress or stress and may just be results of medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure or migraine. They can make things really uncomfortable, uneasy and harder for everyone. Read on and find out the different common causes of headache.
According to the World Health Organization, a headache will affect nearly half of adults around the world in any particular year. It can affect just one part of the head or both sides depending on the severity.
What Causes Headaches?
The most common causes of headaches include anxiety, which can take a toll on any individual. Another one is the glare. Things can be faithful due to brightness from overhead lights, sunlight or computer screens.
Noise is another common cause of headache. Repetitive and loud continuous sounds can hurt your head at some point. To make things easier, you can use headphones or listing to calming music.
A headache may also develop if you have poor sleeping and eating patterns. Do not sleep too little or too much. Try to eat if you are hungry and never sleep in odd positions especially when the room is cold.
Prescription drugs can also cause headaches. Though not all, some medications can act as trigger. To prevent this from happening, consult your doctor first whenever you have to take a prescription drug.
Too much physical activity can also cause headaches. Take it easy so as to prevent your blood vessels from swelling especially in the scalp, neck and head.
People who rarely exercise or move around are also more likely to have headaches. A sedentary lifestyle does not help. Consult your doctor for any exercise regimen that would conveniently suit your lifestyle.
Improper posture is another common cause of headaches. Keep the blood properly flowing by sitting up straight. Try to move around especially if you are about to spend so many hours just sitting in front of your desk.
For women, hormones contribute to some kind of headache when their estrogen levels decrease. They may experience a headache just before their period.
Sensitivities to food are common causes of headaches for many people. Neurotransmitters are released by food and beverages. Possible triggers include cheese, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine and aspartame.
General Classifications of Headaches
Primary headaches are results of problems or overactivity of the head’s pain-sensitive structures. Factors include chemical activity in the head or neck muscles, the blood vessels or nerves around the skull and the brain.
This class of headache is not a symptom of any underlying medical condition. Some individuals have genes which make them more likely to have a headache. Among the different primary headaches, the most common are tension headache, migraine with aura, migraine and cluster headache.
Although less common, some headache patterns are regarded as types of primary headaches. Unique features of these headaches include pain associated with some activities or unusual pain duration.
Each primary headache can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. These include sex headaches, exercise headaches and cough headaches. The same can also be said for chronic daily headaches such as hemicranias continua, chronic tension-type headache and chronic migraine.
Possible lifestyle factors which can trigger some primary headaches include stress, skipped meals and poor posture. Additional triggers include lack of sleep, changes in sleep patterns, processed foods and alcohol.
Secondary headaches are symptoms of medical conditions which can activate the head’s pain-sensitive nerves. They are usually caused by diseases such as brain tumor, blood clot in the brain, brain arteriovenous malformation, brain aneurysm and acute sinusitis.
Other possible causes include dental problems, dehydration, concussion, chiari malformation, and carbon monoxide poisoning. The list also include high blood pressure, hangovers, glaucoma, giant cell arteritis, encephalitis and middle ear infection.
Also recognized as causes of secondary headaches are trigeminal neuralgia, toxoplasmosis, stroke, pseudotumor cerebri, post-concussion syndrome, panic disorder, panic attacks, pain medication overuse, meningitis, prescription drugs, intracranial hematoma, febrile diseases and influenza.
Basic activities like the use of too much monosodium glutamate and excessive pressure from tight headgear can also lead to secondary headaches.
Different Types of Secondary Headaches
Secondary headaches can be subdivided into six different types. Thunderclap headaches are a set of conditions which involves severe and sudden headaches caused by a number of factors.
Caused by the low volume or pressure of cerebrospinal fluid, spinal headaches happen when there is a spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak, spinal anesthesia or spinal tap.
Sinus headaches happen when the sinus cavities are congested and inflamed. The overuse of pain drugs can cause medication overuse headaches. Brain freeze is a type of secondary headache also referred to as ice cream headaches. When the headache is caused by pressure-causing headgear, the type is under external compression headaches.
Common Treatments for Headaches
Headaches are commonly treated using pain relief drugs and rest. Over the counter generic medications are available for pain relief. Preventative drugs can also be prescribed. Beta-blockers, anti-epileptic drugs, serotonin receptor agonists and tricyclic antidepressants are found to be effective against headaches.
Alternative Treatments for Headaches
For those who prefer alternative treatments for headaches, there are a number of available options. Before you try any of these approaches, be sure to consult your doctor first just to be sure. Meditation, hypnosis and acupuncture have been found therapeutic against headaches. Herbal and nutritional health products and cognitive behavior therapy are also found to have some kind of benefits against headaches.
Home Treatments for Headaches
When at home, you can ease the pain and reduce the risk of headaches. Get an ice pack or heat pack then apply to your neck or head. Do not use extremely hot or cold temperatures. Whenever possible, it is best to avoid things that can stress you out. Try to establish healthy coping mechanisms that you can depend on during times of unavoidable stress.
Eat regularly while maintaining good blood sugar levels. Get sufficient rest and sleep regularly because they can reduce stress and improve overall health.