Types Of Headaches And Symptoms
Overview of The Different Types of Headaches
For many people, a headache is an infrequent annoyance that disappears after swallowing a few tablets.But for chronic headache sufferers, the effects can be far worse. The World Headache Alliance has fourteen different classifications of headaches, from tension headaches and Migraines to headaches caused by ocular diabetic neuropathy.
Three of the most common forms of chronic headaches are tension headaches, Migraines, and cluster headaches. The likelihood of being afflicted with different headache disorders seems to be gender-related, with women three times more likely to suffer from Migraines, and men four times more likely to get cluster headaches.
The most common type are tension headaches, these are caused by tensing of the muscles around the neck and upper chest due to stress or physical strain, these are characterized by a pain starting at the base of the neck and working up the scalp. Sinus headaches are generally a dull pain in and around the nose that is caused by congestion from a cold or flu, allergies; sinus headaches must be treated to prevent a more serious condition. The most painful types of headaches are vascular headaches. Vascular headaches are caused by blood sugar changes, high blood pressure, and include migraines, they are characterized by local and sharper pain that can be worsened by light, sound, and even smell and cause high sensitivity and pain that may result in fainting or vomiting.
Cluster headaches are often called “suicide” or “ice pick” headaches due to the excruciating stabbing pain in or near the eyes. This type of headache disorder is rare, with less than 0.5% of the general population affected. A migraine, in comparison, affects roughly 10% of the population, causing pain that can range from irritating to debilitating. Most headaches (over 66%) are tension-related headaches with over 60% of people suffering at least one tension headache each year. Tension-related headaches, unlike Migraines and cluster headaches, generally produce a steady ache rather than intense throbbing or shooting pains.
The most common treatments for headaches are analgesics such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. For more severe chronic headaches, however, a physician may prescribe antidepressants, muscle relaxers, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. With proper treatment, most headaches are gone within an hour or two, but in severe cases, the pain can last for days or even weeks without relief.
Primary headaches include the following:
Perhaps the most infamous form of head pain is a migraine. These vascular headaches are caused by an enlargement of blood vessels that triggers a release of chemicals from the nerve fibers around large arteries in the brain. These enlarged blood vessels stretch the nerve fibers, causing a release of chemicals. This chemical release further enlarges the arteries and causes further inflammation and pain.
Common Symptoms of Migraines:
- Often pounding, pulsating, or throbbing pain
- Pain can move from one side of the head to another
- Moderate to severe pain
- Recurrent headaches lasting between 4-72 hours
- Sensitive to light, odor, and noise
- Blurry vision
- Upset stomach, nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)
- A feeling of being extremely warm or cold
- Fever (in rare cases)
- Hyperactivity, depression, repetitive yawning, food cravings the day or two before (only for migraines with aura)
If you experience several of the symptoms, contact a doctor in your area to determine whether you have migraines and how to treat them.
“Migraine Headache Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment at Medicine.net”. http://www.medicinenet.com/migraine_headache/article.htm#tocb
“The International Classification of Headache Disorders.” Cephalalgia:An International Journal of Headache 24.1 (2004). Accessed September 28, 2011.
– Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches, affecting between 30-78% of the general population according to various studies (1). Despite the prevalence of tension headaches, they are also the least studied form of headaches. Doctors still are unsure of the exact cause of tension headaches. Scientists previously thought these headaches were caused by muscle spasms in the neck, face, and head area but now experts are beginning think changes in brain chemicals may also be the culprit.
Most tension headaches are not serious and do not last longer than 30 minutes to 7 days. However, some people suffer from chronic tension headaches. If you’ve suffered from a tension headache for 15 days a month for 3 consecutive months, you may have chronic tension headaches. Consult a doctor in your area about diagnosis and treatment.
Common Symptoms of tension headaches include:
- A constant headache, not throbbing
- Sleep disturbances and difficulty going to sleep
- Aching in back of head and neck
- Constant fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle aches
- Mildly sensitive to light or noise
(1) “The International Classification of Headache Disorders.” Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 24.1 (2004). Accessed September 28, 2011.
“Tension Headaches-Topic Overview” http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/tc/tension-headaches-topic-overview
“Headache Symptoms, Causes, Treatment”.http://www.medicinenet.com/headache/page2.htm#tocg
– Cluster Headaches
Though uncommon, cluster headaches are possibly the most severe forms of headaches. About 20% of people with cluster headaches suffer from chronic conditions.
If you’re experiencing several of the following symptoms, contact a doctor in your area to discuss diagnosis and treatment.
Common Symptoms of Cluster Headaches:
- Pain located behind one eye or in the eye region
- Burning or piercing pain
- Throbbing or constant pain
- Attacks lasting 15-180 minutes
- Attacks occur once to eight times a day
- Nasal congestion
- Desire to pace or move around during attack to cope with pain
“The International Classification of Headache Disorders.” Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 24.1 (2004). Accessed September 28, 2011.
“Cluster Headaches”. http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/cluster-headaches?page=2
Secondary headaches result from other medical conditions like infections, trauma, tumor or head injury.
– Sinus Headaches
When the ducts in the back of the nose become inflamed, sinuses are less able to drain. This creates a build of a pressure in the affected sinus and causes a build up of pressure in the affected sinus as mucus and fluid increases. This causes swelling and inflammation in the sinus which triggers headaches. Sinus headaches are often associated with infection.
Common Symptoms of Sinus Headaches:
- Dull, increasing sensation of pressure
- Pain in the sides of the nose and the area underneath and above the eyes (where sinuses are located)
- Pain with changing position of the head
- Tenderness to touch in areas of the sinus
Common Symptoms of Sinus Infections:
- Green or yellow mucus
- Fever, chills
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
“Sinus Headaches: Symptoms and Treatment”. http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/sinus-headaches
“a sinus headache, Causes, and Treatment by Medine.net”. http://www.medicinenet.com/sinus_headache/article.htm
– Cervicogenic Headaches
Cervicogenic headaches are caused by neck disorders and originate in the cervical spine (or the part of the spine connecting to your head.) Causes of cervicogenic headaches can range from an injury to the cervical spine like whiplash or an
illness like arthritis. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, consult a doctor about diagnosis and treatment.
Common Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms:
- Steady, non-throbbing pain in the back and base of skull
- Pain can extend down the neck to between should blades
- Pain can start from sudden movement like a sneeze
- Nausea, vomiting, dizziness ( in some patients)
- Blurry vision ( in some patients)
- Sometimes associated with fatigue, trouble sleeping, stress of muscles, poor posture
Haas M, Schneider M, Vavrek D. Illustrating risk difference and number needed to treat from a randomized controlled trial of spinal manipulation for a cervicogenic headache. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2010; 18:9.
“Symptoms & Treatment for a Cervicogenic Headache”. http://www.ehow.com/about_5069909_symptoms-treatment-cervicogenic-headache.html
Types of Headaches Chart Conclusion:
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