Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches.
- A migraine is a severe, painful headache that can be preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine can last for hours or even days. A migraine headache is often “triggered” when a person is exposed to a specific set of circumstances. These circumstances can include, hormonal, environmental, food based, or stressful situations.
- Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck regions. When the muscles covering the skull are stressed, they can become inflamed, go into spasm, and cause pain. Tension headaches can be caused by a variety of foods, activities, and stressors such as heightened emotions, tension or stress.
- Cluster headaches are a series of short but painful headaches. The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but cluster headache patterns suggest that they run in families, and that genes could play a role. Doctors do know that a nerve in the face is involved, creating debilitating pain, usually on one side of the head.
- A secondary headache is a headache that is present because of another condition, and can include sinus headaches, headaches from illness, headaches from a hangover, headaches from a trauma event such as a car accident, headaches from a brain tumor, and a Cervicogenic headache (such as a degenerative disc disease of the cervical vertebrae).
How To Lessen The Effects Of A Headache:
- Physical therapy, massage therapy, biofeedback, and stress management can all be used to help control many types of headaches.
- Over-the-counter treatments, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can treat the pain of some types of headaches.
- Applying an ice pack can help to reduce inflammation that contributes to headaches.
- A few simple exercises to stretch your head and neck can help reduce the intensity of the headache.
- Deep breathing helps fresh oxygen circulate through your blood, helping to relax your mind and body.
- Dehydration can be a common cause of headaches, so aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Know your body, and what helps to relief or shorten your headache. Does fresh air help, does turning off the lights, or turning on soft music help.
If your headaches are happening on a regular basis, keep a headache journal. Keep track of the dates and times you have a headache. Track where and what you were doing an hour to half an hour before the headache started; this can be helpful to find triggers if any for your headaches.
Other details to keep track off are how much sleep you had, and what you ate and drank, in the 24 hours before the headache, as well as, how long your headache lasted, and what if anything helped relieve the pain.