A list of most common headaches, their symptoms, causes and treatments.
We are all familiar with headaches and it’s a pain that really gets to you. It disrupts your normal functioning, causes discomfort, makes you irritable and more often than not you feel annoyed at the pain. Headaches are so common and so ubiquitous that we do need to know about them. Here, we have listed the 6 most common types of headaches and the symptoms associated with them.
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) headaches
Symptoms: The pain generally occurs on the temples in front of the ears. This kind of a headache is not so common but can be really painful when it does occur. The pain is like one feels when our muscles contract rapidly. It is sometimes accompanied by a painful ‘clicking’ sound when you open your jaw.
Reason: It mostly happens due to stress, high frequency of jaw clenching or due to malocclusion, which is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close.
Treatment: In such cases, you need to consciously practice relaxation. Try relaxing your jaws, and the tensed muscles on your face. Doctors also recommend the use of a bite plate but this needs to be used only after consulting a physician. In extreme cases, the dental arches may need to be realigned to solve the problem.
- Sinus headaches
Symptoms: The symptoms include a massive pain over your nasal area which often turns severe as the day passes. The pain occurs behind the browbone and/or cheekbones. Though not so common, migraines and cluster headaches are often misdiagnosed as sinus and one needs to be wary of this.
Reason: Sinus may be caused by acute infection, coupled with fever and it blocks the sinus ducts preventing normal drainage through the nose. Anatomical deformities like deviated septum may also cause this problem.
Treatment: Usually, sinus headaches are treated using antibiotics which need to be prescribed by your physician. Decongestants are also used by they have a temporary effect and surgical drainage may be necessary in extreme cases.
- A cluster headache
Symptoms: A cluster headache is when you feel excruciating pain around the area of either one of your eyes. Your eyes will be teary, nose congested and you would feel your face flushed. The pain develops during sleep and the attacks may occur every day for weeks or months and then disappear up to even a year. About 80% of cluster headaches are among men between the ages of 19-50.
Reason: The exact cause of cluster headaches are not yet known but it has a high association with your biological clock. A disruption in your regular routine could in time lead to this kind of a headache which may further be aggravated by consumption of alcohol, excessive smoking etc. It is non-life-threatening in nature.
Treatment: Lower levels of oxygen in your blood could be a concern so morning walks, exercise and physical activities may help. Reduction in alcohol consumption and smoking would do a lot of good. Prescription drugs help relieve the pain but it requires a consultation with your physician.
- A tension headache
Symptoms: The symptoms include a dull pain across the sphere of your head. It is usually non-throbbing and the severity of pain does no vary a lot. Tightening of scalp muscles or neck with its associated effects aggravate the pain.
Reason: The cause is generally stress and it increases with the time duration. Depression, emotional anxiety, and high levels of tension in your environment add to this kind of a headache.
Treatment: A lot of drugs and muscle relaxants are usually used by people but they should be used after a consultation. For long-term treatment, one should practice relaxation techniques, take good rest, cut down on smoking, alcohol consumption and consciously try to remain away from triggers that cause you stress.
- Neck pains
Symptoms: The symptoms include pain at the back of your head and on your nape. The pain intensifies with movement and you feel better only when you are still. The pain progresses steadily and at times can become unbearable.
Reason: It is caused by the inflammation of the blood vessels of the head. It may also be caused due to pressure on the bones and veins at the back of your neck. Sleeping funny, for example, can cause this as there’s undue pressure on the neck.
Treatment: Anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants are generally prescribed but it should be used only after consulting a physician. Long-term prevention would require regular neck muscle exercises and relaxation techniques to prevent the inflammation.
Symptoms: The symptom includes severe one-sided pain which could feel like engulfing your entire head. The pain is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold hands and the person feeling extra sensitive to sound and light.
Reason: There is a hereditary component to a migraine but other factors also come into play. Some foods, for example, are known to trigger a migraine in some people. Menopausal hormones, excessive hunger, weather changes, emotional stress, altitude change etc. have also been known to affect and aggravate the condition.
Treatment: Analgesics and anti-nausea medications are prescribed by the physicians. Ice packs and steroids are also used as treatments at times. Long-term preventive measures include regular exercise, relaxation techniques and avoidance of stress to the extent you can.