Headaches – What You Should Know
Headaches are a real pain (literally). They can be a nuisance that prevents you from being at the top of your game, or a full-blown migraine that has you lying down in a dark room for days. There are many different kinds of headaches and options for headache treatment. Before you reach for the aspirin, identify what kind of headache you’re experiencing and whether you should see a doctor in case it’s a sign of something more serious.
A migraine is a headache syndrome consisting of recurring severe headaches, often combined with neurologic, gastrointestinal and autonomic symptoms. The pain is characterized as throbbing, unilateral, and usually towards the front of the head. It is often associated with an intolerance to light or sound. In some cases, the attacks are preceded by visual or sensorimotor disturbances called “auras.” Many migraine sufferers have specific triggers for their attacks, which can be identified by keeping a headache journal. While the cause remains largely unknown, there is some evidence for a genetic predisposition to migraines. Treatment is usually aimed at relieving acute attacks, and avoiding triggers. Preventive treatment is generally reserved for patients with very frequent attacks.
Other types of headache
Tension headaches present as a steady feeling of pressure all over the head, rather than localized throbbing. Pain is often felt in the neck, and can last for several days. Unlike migraines, there is no sensitivity to light or sound, and there are no auras. Often, stress is the root cause of this type of headache.
Cluster headaches are an uncommon condition where many short headaches occur within a few days to weeks. Clusters are then followed by headache-free interludes of varying duration (often up to several months). The headaches cause a steady pain behind the eye on one side, and are often combined with a runny nose or red eyes. There are some preventive pharmacological treatments, and oxygen is an effective therapy.
Can it be a symptom of a dangerous condition?
Although rare, a headache can sometimes be a symptom of something more serious. One of the most dangerous conditions which causes headaches is a subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding in the tissues surrounding the brain. This type of headache has sudden, very intense, and localized pain. Any headache that comes on suddenly with no apparent cause should be thoroughly examined by a physician. It is important to also be aware of any changes in sensation or motor strength, which can indicate a stroke.
Another rare and potentially serious condition causing a headache is increased intracranial pressure, sometimes caused by a tumor. These types of headaches become worse when lying down and usually occur first thing in the morning. It is important to have these symptoms evaluated by a doctor, especially if there is related unintentional weight loss and fatigue.
If you would like to learn more about home treatment for headaches, such as the Head FX All-in-One Kit, visit the ProMedX Sports Injury & Wellness Center product page or contact us at (905) 882-7688.