Specialists list different types of headaches, and tell you what you can do to keep these from recurring and taking over your life
Headaches can be crippling, and when they persist for a long period of time, they can take all the joy out of your life. They could be brought on by stress, by a sinus condition, or even by changes in your vision -whatever the underlying cause may be, figuring out what type of headache you suffer from can help you treat it correctly, and prevent a relapse.
Experts list different types of headaches, and share their causes, and how they can be treated:
“All acute pain-relief medicines have the potential of causing medicine induced headaches,“ says ENT and head-neck surgeon, Amrita Base Mishra. “If your medicines contain codeine and opioids then they can cause a headache. Though, research has shown that only the people who have a headache disorder seem to develop a medically induced headache.“
Most cough syrups “contain codeine and most pain-relief medicines contain opioids and that is why it might not be completely possible for you to swear off these medicines completely. If you do develop headaches after you take certain medicines, then the best thing you can do is to make a conscious note of those medicines and consult your doctor to find alternatives.“
If you feel like there is a tight band around your head pushing inwards, then you might be suffering from stress headaches. Mishra says, “Commonly seen in adults, a stressrelated headache can be caused by various peripheral factors ranging from a bad sitting posture to a lack of sleep.“
They typically last for anywhere between 15 minutes to a few days, but these headaches are rarely debilitating -they are not likely to keep you from your work. In fact, most people can go about their daily lives quite simply even while they suffer from this headache.
While Your immediate response may be to reach for that bottle of pain-killers, identifying the root cause or the trigger can help you avoid the same headaches in the future. “Some home remedies may offer relief: try applying a cold compress to the head, have a hot water bath or tie a hair band around your head.“
Causing excruciating pain but, typically, only on one side of your head, such a headache can quite literally make you want to bang your head against the wall. Usually, “with such headaches, you will notice pain in and around the eyes, but the pain can move to other parts of the head as well, including the temporal part (right behind the ears), cheeks, and even to your teeth,“ says Mishra.
“The pain levels and symptoms of this kind of headache, often called a `cluster headache', are very similar to migraines. These may include sensitivity to sound and light. The major difference is that these headaches usually affect one side of the head,“ she says.
“Typically, these headaches do not have any triggers. Instead, they signify abnormalities in the body's biological clock.“
They may last for 15 minutes or go on for two hours. Mishra recommends avoiding the consumption of alcohol while suffering as it could exacerbate the ache.
Caffeine withdrawals can hurt
If you are already on your second cup of tea while you're reading this, or if you make it a point to stop at a coffe shop on the way to work, chances are you are already vaguely aware that missing your morning cuppa will bring on a headache.
If you consume caffeine regularly, but then give it a miss, that's when you'll feel this headache. It's a withdrawal symptom caused by the changes in the dopamine levels in our body,“ says Mishra.
The best way to go about treating this is to go off caffeine slowly, switching your regular up for a decaffeinated beverage one time slot at a time. Do away with your afternoon cup of teacoffee to begin with, and then skip the second afternoon cup etc, the goal being to eventually even start your day with herbal tea.
The two most common reasons behind early morning headaches are “lack of sleep and hangovers,“ says Mishra. “In both cases, you can easily avoid these headaches by changing your lifestyle.“
It could also be a lingering headache though, Mishra clarifies.“If you had a headache the day before and took some medicine at night to treat it. The effect of the medicine would have worn off by morning and your head could start throbbing again. Dehydration might be another cause behind these headaches -it's your body's way of telling you to drink more fluids through the day.“
If you get early morning headaches, and this has been happening for more than two weeks, then it can be more serious, Mishra says. “It could be due to hypertension of the spinal fluid because of a brain tumour or colloidal cyst.“ If a headache is accompanied by vomiting, vertigo, and vision problems, make it a point to consult a doctor.
Your sinuses are air-filled cavities located around the nasal passage.Lined with mucous membranes, they are located near your cheekbones, forehead and the area behind the bridge of your nose.“When the sinuses get infected or inflamed, they generate more mucous and cause pressure to build up around the whole area,“ says MD -Internal Medicine, Dr Monica Goel.
Because of the location of these cavities, the pressure builds up and this causes a deep and constant pain -a throbbing -in your head and around the sinus. “The best way to tackle this pain is to use nasal sprays to decongest the area.However, if your sinus issues have been persisting for a long time, you may require surgery.“
“Migraines are characterised by excruciating pain which is felt all around the head and these headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound,“ says Goel. Though the root cause of a migraines is still unknown, most people who regularly suffer from migraines “have certain triggers,“ Goel observes. Anxiety, dehydration, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, hormonal changes and missing a meal could, all, trigger a migraine. However, Goel adds, “It's important to remember that these triggers do not always cause migraines and also that avoiding them may not prevent migraines either. The quick treatment is to take a pain killer; you could also consult a specialist about the triggers.“
Most of us have experienced a brain freeze -a sharp and sudden pang that disappears as quickly as it started, typically associated with biting into a piece of ice. “It is caused by the sudden increase of blood flow to the brain,“ says Goel.A brain freeze isn't dangerous though. Avoid gulping down your ice-cream and you should be fine. If you do experience this though, rubbing the roof of your mouth with your tongue will offer relief.