Headache sufferer? Let's explore why and what can be done

Headaches are a nuisance, they’re something we'd preferred to avoid. There are many different types of headaches, about 80% of us suffer from headaches every year. Let’s have a look at the different types of headaches.


Sinus Headaches

Sinuses can become inflamed, due to infections, so this can cause pain. It can be associated with a fever and doctors can diagnose this by looking at the symptoms or using something called a fibre-optic scope. These definitely need to be dealt with by your GP, as they can prescribe antibiotics, antihistamines and decongestants which can alive the symptoms.

Cluster Headaches

These affect men more than women. These have a sudden, severe onset and can cause quite a lot of pain. They can occur at a particular time for each person and can also be located to a certain side of the head. Cluster headaches can also be associated with a runny nose on the same side as the headache. The cause is currently unknown, however there could be a genetic link. Medication can help with these.

Tension Headaches

These are the most common type of headache. This feels like a constant ache, or a pressure around the head. The tension headache could be located around the temples, the back of the head, or the neck. They aren’t as severe as migraines, and an individual can get on with day to day life. These may be caused due to the contraction of neck and scalp muscles, which is a response to stress. It can also be caused by changes in brain chemicals.

Migraine Headaches

These can be due to genetics, as they are normally noticed amongst families. They have a certain criteria to be diagnosed as migraines. Five previous headaches should be noted with all of them lasting 4-72 hours. 2 of these 4 headaches should have one-sided pain, moderate to severe pain and stops the person doing day to day activities. It can also be associated with nausea, or vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound.

Some migraines can also have a visual aura, they are able to see visual distortion, normally zig-zag lines constricted to one side in their visual field. The visual aura tends to disappear within 15-20 minutes, and the onset of the migraine occurs.

Rebound Headaches

These can actually occur if too many pain killers are taken. Painkillers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and other prescription drugs can cause this. This occurs because the medication can make the brain turn into a state of excitement, which can cause headaches. Also, withdrawal symptoms can occur when the level of medication in your bloodstream drops, causing the rebound headaches. Make sure to visit your GP about these side effects, especially if they are medication that have been prescribed by a health practitioner.

Additional triggers for headaches:

Your mood: if you are angry, muscles can tense up, causing a tension headache. Even the very opposite, of being relaxed after a stressful event can cause headaches. This is due to the stress hormone dropping, causing impulses to blood vessels telling them to constrict, then dilate, causing headaches.
Your posture can cause tension in your back, neck and shoulders. You should contact a physical therapist if this occurs
Smells: Fragrances such as perfume and air fresheners can contain chemicals that your brain doesn’t agree with. Try to avoid using a certain perfume, it may make you smell good, but it certainly won’t make you feel good.
Weather: Bad weather may cause headaches, as there’s not much you can do about the weather, try taking painkillers if you notice this.
There are plenty of other triggers so the best option is to try and figure out what is triggering your headache.

5 Tips to relieve symptoms of headaches

Use over the counter medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Try to de-stress. If you have work to do, it’ll be more productive long term to relax until the headache goes.
Keep a record of when you get the headaches. If they occur at a certain time or with a certain task, try to stop the task and see if they improve. This will help you work out what your trigger is.
Always consult your GP, who will also be able to give you informative advice, and be able to diagnose the headache.
It’s always a good idea to have an eye test, as the headache may be caused by eye strain, visual stress or neurological problems.

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Current Version
September 30, 2020

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