Different types of headaches and what to watch out for
Headaches are a very common medical problem and can interfere with the ability to work and other daily tasks. Some people suffer from frequent headaches, and other lucky ones have never had one.
Headaches is one of my favourite things to treat as I can really appreciate NOT having one myself!
Types of headaches
There are several different types of headaches- or causes for the headaches: Here are a few of them:
The most common one is probably a tension headache, commonly also called cervicogenic - i.e. due to something wrong or tight in the neck.
This tension in the neck muscles, a disk herniation or a joint that is 'locked' can irritate the nerve roots in the upper neck of the nerves that supply the head with sensation. It can also compromise the vascular supply to the head generating further pain.
Tension headaches are linked to stress and bad posture.
Click here for great exercises to relax your neck.
Migraines can be extremely debilitating and mostly affect women.
Not only may there be headaches but also nausea and the need to vomit. Light and sound can be disturbing and a lot of people need to lie down in a dark quiet room until the attack is over.
The cause for migraines are poorly understood, but there seems to be a link between oestrogen, certain foods (red wine, chocolate and caffeine are the most common ones) as well as insomnia. These triggers can cause quick dilation of the blood vessels in the head, which is what seems to set off the pain receptors involved in migraines.
Sometimes releasing the tension in the neck and head i.e. the pressure onto the blood vessels can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Grinding your teeth at night or any dental problems can also cause headaches because the muscles in the Temporomandibular joint, the jaw, tense up. Getting the jaw back into its proper position can alleviate these headaches.
Read more about grinding your teeth, "bruxism", here
Inflamed Sinuses can make headaches particularly bad on awakening and when bending forwards. Usually there is a cold involved with this too. Helping the lymphatics of the head and neck and easing the bones surrounding the sinuses helps their drainage and speeds up recovery.
Here are some great exercise to help your sinuses.
Having your eyes checked regularly is vital - especially if your look at a computer all day as eye strains result in annoying headaches that can easily be sorted!
Drink plenty of water, and reduce your alcohol and caffeine consumption as dehydration, toxins in the blood as well as diseases linked to bad eating habits can facilitate getting headaches! (and this is not only for migraine sufferers!). Think about high blood pressure, diabetes, anaemia and anorexia.
Obviously there are headaches that are not as easily addressed as the above. They are very rare but need to be mentioned because of their severeness: Meningitis, brain tumours, inter cranial abscesses and haemorrhages.
If you never suffered from any headaches and suddenly you get a splitting headache (that won´t respond to pain medication)- Do seek medical expertise!
If you have a fever, a stiff neck and a headache- Do seek medical help immediately!
If your headache is getting more frequent and more intense or changes in its pattern- Do seek medical help!
If your coordination or vision is suddenly affected by your old headache- do seek medical help!
It is better to get it checked, and it being fine, than not.