10 headaches to worry about

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 16 Feb, 2023 08:00 | 3 mins read
Headache illustration PHOTO/Illustration

They are the most common type of pain you will experience in your lifetime. World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that almost half of all adults will have experienced at least one headache within the last year.

There are over 100 types and some will go away with simple over-the-counter drugs while others are an indication of a serious underlying condition. Muthoki Kithanze explores some of them

1. Migraine
This headache is usually intense and occurs on one side of the head. When experiencing a migraine you may become more sensitive to light, sound, and smell. Migraines tend to recur and each attack can last a few hours. Stress, not sleeping well, dehydration, hormonal changes, bright lights, and loud noise may trigger them. Some painkillers will relieve your symptoms, but if you experience chronic migraines frequently you might want to visit your general practitioner.

2. Tension headache
These are the most common types of headaches and are characterised by pressure around the forehead — you may feel like a tight band has been placed around your forehead. The pain can vary between individuals, but it’s commonly felt all over the body as a dull, aching sensation. Sensitivity or soreness around your neck, forehead, or shoulder muscles may also occur. Tension headache may be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, and dehydration. Others are lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, and skipping meals. Painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin will silence the pain, but if you experience pain for more than 15 days do the wise thing and see a doctor.

3. Sinus headache
Sinus headaches are caused by sinus infection, which will manifest as pain around your eyes, cheeks, teeth, and jaw. If you do not have accompanying nasal symptoms such as a blocked nose or nasal discharge, you may be having a migraine instead. Drink fluids, and painkillers and take a rest and soon the headache will go away. Sinus headaches are also treated by thinning out mucus build-up that causes sinus pressure. Over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines and prescription nasal steroid sprays may help relieve symptoms.

4. Head-injury headache
When you hit your head, you may develop a headache immediately or a bit later. Over-The-Counter drugs will address this, but if you start experiencing symptoms  such as unconsciousness, seizures, vomiting, memory loss, confusion, and vision or hearing problem, seek urgent medical attention as that may be indicative of a serious traumatic injury.

5. Cluster headache
This pain occurs suddenly and is felt around and behind one eye. It may last anywhere between 15 minutes to three hours. Smoking is a risk factor for cluster headaches. A cluster headache can be treated with acute and preventive drug treatment such as oxygen therapy, steroid injections, oral steroids (commonly prednisone), and melatonin.

6. Hangover headache
You experience this kind of headache the morning after a night of drinking. The headache is on both sides of the head and accompanied by nausea. It may be moderate to extreme depending on how much you drunk. Drinking a lot of water will ease this pain, but you may take over-the-counter medication if the pain is extreme.

7. Hypnic headache
This headache is commonly called an alarm clock because it occurs when a person is sleeping and wakes the person up. It begins in people who are in their 50s, but it can start sooner. The pain is dull on both sides of the head and usually wakes up a person several times the night.

8. Thunderclap headache

A thunderclap headache is an extremely severe headache that comes on rapidly, reaching peak intensity in under a minute. It may be benign, but it could also be a symptom of a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention. In some cases, a thunderclap headache could indicate: blood vessel tears, ruptures, or blockages, stroke, brain injury, reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome (RCVS), vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels), or pituitary apoplexy (bleeding into or loss of blood from an organ)

The first time you experience a thunderclap headache, seek immediate medical attention. If a doctor determines that your headache is not caused by another condition, you can discuss a treatment plan for possible future thunderclap headaches.

9. Exertional headache
This headache is a throbbing pain that occurs after you have engaged in strenuous physical exercise such as lifting a heavy load, running, or having sexual intercourse. It does not last long and will be resolved by over-the-counter medications.

10. Ice pick headache

Primary stabbing headaches, or ice pick headaches, are characterised by short, intense stabbing pains in your head lasting only a few seconds. These headaches can occur a few times per day and come on without warning. Ice pick headaches could feel like a single stab or multiple stabs in succession.

Ice pick headaches usually move around to different parts of your head. If you are experiencing ice pick headaches that always occur in the same spot, it might be a symptom of an underlying condition.

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