Headaches are one of the most common health complaints, but most aren't serious and are easily treated.
In many cases, you can treat your headaches at home with over-the-counter painkillers and lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest and drinking enough fluids.
However, it's a good idea to see your GP if your headaches aren't relieved byover-the-counter treatments, or if they'reso painful or frequent that they affect your daily activities or arecausing you to miss work.
This page covers:
Medication and painkiller headaches
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are what we think of as normal, "everyday" headaches. They feel like a constant ache that affects both sides of the head, as though a tight band is stretched around it.
A tension headache normally won't be severe enough to prevent you doing everyday activities. They usually last for 30 minutes to several hours, but can last for several days.
The exact cause is unclear, but tension headaches have been linked to things such as stress, poor posture, skipping meals and Dehydration .
Tension headaches can usually be treated withordinarypainkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen . Lifestyle changes, such as getting regular sleep, reducing stress and staying well hydrated, may also help.
Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraines tend to be more severe than tension headaches and can stop you carrying out your normal daily activities. They usually last at least a couple of hours, and some people find they need to stay in bed for days at a time.
Most people can treat their migraines successfully with over-the-counter medication. But if they're severe, you may need stronger medication that's only available on prescription. This may be able to relieve and preventyour migraines.
Frequent headaches can also be caused by taking too many painkillers. This is known as a painkiller or medication-overuse headache.
A medication-overuse headache will usuallyget betterwithin a few weeks once you stop taking the painkillers that are causing it, although your pain may get worse for a few days before it starts to improve.
Headaches in women are often caused by hormones, and many women notice a link with their periods . The combined contraceptive pill , the menopause and pregnancy are also potential triggers.
Reducing your stress levels, having a regular sleeping pattern, and ensuring you don't miss meals may help reduce headaches associated with your menstrual cycle.
But, rarely, it can be a symptom of a condition such as a stroke , meningitis , or a brain tumour .
A headache is more likely to be serious if:
If you're concerned that your headache might be serious, you should seek immediate medical advice.
Sinus headaches are usually associated with constant pain and tenderness over the affected sinus. You may feel pressure around eyes, cheeks and forehead. The mucosa of the nose swells, the patient secretes foul-smelling, colored mucous (nasal discharge).
Headaches are one of the most common health complaints, but most aren't serious and are easily treated. In many cases, you can treat your headaches at home with over-the-counter painkillers and lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest and drinking enough fluids.
Headaches are an important public health issue that impact the lives of a significant of the world’s population, affecting patients with severe pain, nausea and sometimes visual impairment. Common headache types include tension headaches, cluster headaches, rebound headaches, sinus headache, and migraine.
Vascular headaches refer to a group of headache conditions such as migraine headaches, cluster headaches and toxic headaches. Under this classification are usually headaches throbbing in character, pulsating and physical exertion increasing the pain.
A migraine is characterized as an intermittent pulsative pain on one side of the head. While migraine is a fairly common symptom, which affects women more so than men. The onset of migraines usually occurs in early adulthood, and rarely after 40 years of age. Migraines may be accompanied by symptoms such as; Photosensitivity, Enhanced sensitivity to sound, Nausea, Vomiting.
These headaches are usually felt in the back of the head (occipital region). Patients may experience also headaches when they undergo hypertension treatment. Some of the medications used to treat hypertension can cause headaches.
Intracranial hypertension (IH) is the medical name for a build-up of pressure around the brain. It can come on suddenly for example, as the result of a severe head injury, stroke, or brain abscess. One of the most common symptoms of intracranial hypertension is headache. The cause of intracranial hypertension is unknown.
Rebound Headaches are a type of headaches caused by long term use of analgesic agents. These analgesics may decrease the intensity of pain for a few hours. The rebound headache may feel like a dull, tension-type headache or a more severe migraine like headache.
Headaches due to Neuralgia or Neuritis are severe types of intermittent pain, which are localized in the area of the affected nerve. These conditions include trigeminal neuralgia and other conditions.
Morbus Horton is a vascular disease characterized by the inflammation of blood vessels. The intensity of pain is mild. The pain is located in the temporal region and the vessels in that area can be tender.
Many acute viral infections can cause headache as a response of the immune system combating the viral infection. Headache may be associated with viral infections that affect the upper respiratory tract (common cold), brain and its coverings (encephalitis and meningitis) or ear (otitis).
Usually this is a type of short, bursting, stabbing pain felt in the part of the head which bears the infected ear. The diagnosis is usually determined upon an examination of the ear by a specialist.
Headache due to Toxic Substances are headaches that may be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, benzol, nitroglycerine, etc. This type of headache may also be experienced if the patient is suffering from conditions such as, kidney disease, diabetes, metabolic conditions, etc.
Following a lumbar puncture, the patient may develop a headache. This type of pain may be bearable, moderate or severe. It may spread from the head to the neck, and further down the patientÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s back. This type of pain is alleviated when the patient lies down, or puts their feet up.
This type of pain occurs during the night or early in the morning. The headache can be an early or late symptom of a brain tumor, depending from the location of the tumor. Most brain tumors are accompanied by neurological symptoms such as; seizures, personality change or weakness.
These headaches occur as a result of an inflammatory process, like for example Meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, lining layers of the brain) or due to another condition such as a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. Diagnosis is confirmed via lumbar puncture.
These are types of headaches which occur more rarely. These are headaches caused by dental conditions. The pain is not throbbing nor is it intermittent.