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You have a headache. But which type of a headache is it? Migraines remain among the most well-known of the kinds of headaches, but there are several other significant types of headaches that you should know about, too. You do need to know what type of headaches you have to treat it appropriately. Here are descriptions of different kinds of headaches that can occur. Please take a quick look through these symptoms and discover what variety of a headache you have before you make any decisions on treating your head discomfort.
The most common types of headaches are tension headaches. These headaches cause moderate levels of discomfort in your neck, head and behind the eyes. You may additionally feel pressure or discomfort in the area of your forehead. Tension headaches may occur several times per month or may be chronic. Women have more of these headaches than do men.
Tension-related headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the neck and head. Foods and stressors are the primary causes of these types of headaches, as is gazing at the screen of a computer for an extended amount of time. A decrease in the temperature can also cause one of these headaches, along with:
• Dry eyes.
• Being tired.
• Alcohol use.
• Too much caffeine.
• Incorrect posture.
• Emotional ups and downs.
If tension-related headaches become a frequent problem for you, you should keep a headache diary listing behaviors and foods that may be triggering your head discomfort.
A cluster headache is one that remains short but quite painful. These headaches appear in a series for weeks or months. They usually come at the same time each year and may be mistaken for allergy signs or as a result of stress. The cause of these uncomfortable headaches isn’t known. Usually, you’ll feel discomfort around one of your eyes that makes you feel restless and makes it hard to relax or sit still. Cluster headaches may have higher discomfort levels than do migraines. They occur suddenly and can start before the age of 30. The problems may go into remission for a while and then recur for no apparent reason.
These headaches begin when a nerve pathway at your brain’s base becomes activated from the hypothalamus of the brain. When activated, the trigeminal nerve creates heat and discomfort in your face and around your eye. Other areas affected include the forehead, above the ear, across the cheek, and in your jaw. The uncomfortable feelings of this type of head discomfort come on quickly, occur on one side of the face, and have a piercing or burning quality. Your scalp or gums may feel sore. You may also feel the blood pulsing through the affected area.
Cluster variety headaches usually last from 15 minutes to up to three hours. Then they disappear. They may happen one time per day or several times a day. Other signs of a cluster type headache include:
• A drooping or swollen eye.
• One pupil appears smaller than the other.
• The affected eye may be watery or red.
• Being sensitive to light.
Possible causes or triggers of cluster style headaches may include:
• Drinking alcohol.
• Smelling a strong smell.
You’ll need to experience these headaches for about two weeks before you can report the symptoms to a doctor and receive treatment. Once diagnosed, treatment occurs more quickly.
The sinuses are located above the eyes and under the eyes. They exist to drain mucus secretions and allow humidity from the air to get into the sinus cavities. When sinuses become inflamed or infected, they can become very painful, too. The discomfort comes about because mucous in the sinuses can’t drain properly. Allergies, colds and sinus infections remain the primary cause of sinus headaches. Other signs that you may have a sinus headache are:
• Increased head pain when you bend over.
• Discomfort in the cheek or forehead.
• Either a runny or a stuffy nose;
• A cough caused by post-nasal drip occurring in the back of the throat.
Usually, sinus headaches remain easy to diagnose and may be treated at home in most cases. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, using a humidifier, using over-the-counter sinus headache medications and warm compresses on the affected areas should be the only treatments required unless your sinuses are infected.
Signs of a Sinus Headache Due to a Sinus Infection
Sinus infections also cause headaches in the sinus. The signs of a sinus infection are similar to those of a sinus headache but include nasal congestion and yellow or green mucus coming from the nose, and chills and fever. Many of these infections are viral and should pass with time, rest and proper hydration.
Thunderclap headaches are descriptively named types of head discomfort that strike very quickly. The level of pain usually peaks in about one minute. These headaches are incredibly uncommon and are signs of a severe and life-threatening health condition in the brain or elsewhere in the body. If you have a sudden headache that occurs very quickly and is quite painful, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Signs of a Thunderclap Headache
The signs of this variety of a headache include:
• Dramatic, sudden pain that increases in the first 60 seconds.
• Altered mental state.
Causes of a Thunderclap Type of Headache
Several severe causes may bring on a thunderclap style of a headache such as:
• Bleeding in the brain as in a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
• Rupture of a brain blood vessel.
• A tear of an artery in the brain.
• A tear in the spine’s nerve root, which causes cerebrospinal fluid to leak.
• Dying tissue or a bleed in the pituitary gland.
• Extremely high blood pressure.
• Brain infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
• An ischemic stroke.
When you go to the emergency room, your doctor can perform several tests to determine if there is bleeding or leaking in your brain or spine. A spinal tap may also be required to check your spinal cord fluid for blood or infection. An MRI may also be used to determine where the blood is flowing in your head or brain. Please be sure to tell your attending physician any symptoms you may have had before and during your headache. A neurologist may be called in to help you determine the cause of your sudden, painful headache, too.
Migraines are a neurological condition characterized by such signs as:
• Intense headaches.
• Seeing flashing lights or having blind spots.
• Trouble speaking.
• Sensations of numbness or tingling.
• Sensitivity to bright lights and sounds.
• Auras, or seeing rings around certain objects.
• Food cravings.
• Low energy levels.
• Stiffness in the neck.
• Blind spots in your vision.
• Throbbing sensations in your head.
• Pulsing sensations.
• Discomfort on one side of your head that feels like intense pulsing and throbbing.
• Dizziness or faintness.
Once the discomfort and dizziness of a migraine have passed, a person may experience mood changes. You may have a continuing dull headache, too.
While migraines aren’t curable, they can be treated before they hit the flashing lights phase and become worse.