Guide Headache

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Sometimes a person will experience headaches after trauma to the head, sustained during an event like a fall, car accident, or skiing accident. Inflammation in the normally air-filled sinus cavities in the face can cause pressure and pain that leads to a sinus headache. A spinal headache can occur due to a slow leak of cerebrospinal fluid, usually after a person has an epidural, spinal tap, or spinal block for anesthesia.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and occur most frequently in women over age These headaches are often described as feeling like a tight band around the head. They are caused by a tightening of the muscles in the neck and scalp. Poor posture and stress are contributing factors. Tension headaches usually last for several minutes, but in some cases, they can last for several days. They also tend to be recurrent. Cluster headaches are non-throbbing headaches that cause excruciating, burning pain on one side of the head or behind the eye.

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They usually cause the eyes to tear up and produce nasal congestion or rhinorrhea runny nose. These headaches can last for extended periods of time, known as the cluster period. The cluster period can be as long as six weeks. Cluster headaches may occur every day and more than once a day. The cause is unknown; however, this type headache is rare and generally affects men age 20 to Migraine headaches are severe headaches that can cause throbbing, pounding pain, usually on one side of the head. Several different types of migraine headache exist. This includes chronic migraines , which are migraines that occur 15 or more days a month.

Hemiplegic migraines are those with symptoms resembling that of a stroke. A person can even experience migraines without head pain, which means they have migraine symptoms such as nausea, visual disturbances, and dizziness, but without head pain. Rebound headaches are those that occur after a person stops taking medications they used regularly to treat headaches.

A person is more likely to experience rebound headaches if they take medications such as acetaminophen, triptans Zomig, Imitrex , ergotamine Ergomar , and painkillers like Tylenol with codeine. Thunderclap headaches are abrupt, severe headaches that often come on very quickly. They will usually appear without warning and last up to five minutes. These headache types can signal an underlying problem with blood vessels in the brain and often require prompt medical attention.

A significant number of headache types exist. Learn more about 10 of the most common headache types. Migraines are the most severe and complex type of headache. Researchers believe they may be caused by changes in the activity of nerve pathways and brain chemicals. Migraines are very intense, throbbing headaches that affect one side of the head. They can also increase sensitivity to light and noise. They may last anywhere from several hours to several days. According to the Migraine Research Foundation , nearly 1 out of every 4 households in the United States includes someone with a migraine.

Migraines are one of the top 20 most disabling illnesses in the world. Among adolescents, migraines are more common in boys than in girls. Among adults, however, migraines occur more frequently in women than in men. They are also more likely to affect those who have family members that often experience migraines. There are two basic types of migraine headaches: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

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Auras are visual disturbances that consist of bright spots, flashing lights, or moving lines. In some cases, auras cause a temporary loss of vision. These visual disturbances occur about 30 minutes before the migraine begins and can last for 15 minutes. Migraine with aura tends to be less severe and disabling than migraine without aura. However, most people experience migraine without aura. Hemiplegic migraines are another type of migraine. These migraines are accompanied by stroke-like symptoms, such as slurred speech and numbness or weakness on one side of the body.

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Prodrome is the period leading up to the migraine. This is the time when auras can occur. The prodrome phase may affect concentration, mood, and appetite. This phase may also cause frequent yawning.

What is causing this headache?

Peak headache is the period when migraine symptoms become the most severe. This phase may last for several minutes. Postdrome is the hour period after the migraine. During this time, drowsiness can occur and mood can fluctuate between feelings of sadness and feelings of joy. However, there are numerous factors that are known to trigger the onset of migraine episodes. These include:. Because some non-migraine headaches can be severe, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two.


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Learn more about the differences between migraines and other headache types. Sometimes tension headaches can feel like migraines.

Cluster headaches are often short in duration and often cause pain behind the eyes. The pain is usually on one side, and it may be described as throbbing or constant in nature. Cluster headaches will typically occur about one to two hours after a person goes to bed. They often improve with medication but return when the medication wears off. Other symptoms associated with rebound headaches include:. A thunderclap headache causes head pain that is short in duration, yet intense in nature. A headache can sometimes be a symptom of a disease or other medical condition.

A doctor may be able to determine the underlying cause of a headache by taking a medical history and performing a physical examination. This exam should include a complete neurological evaluation. Taking a comprehensive history is also important, as the sudden absence of medication and certain foods can cause recurrent headaches.

For example, heavy coffee drinkers who suddenly stop drinking coffee can experience headaches. A doctor may also order diagnostic tests if they suspect that a certain medical condition is causing the headaches.

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When prescription drugs are needed, most doctors turn to the triptans, which are available as tablets, nasal sprays, or as injections that patients can learn to give to themselves. Examples include sumatriptan Imitrex , zolmitriptan Zomig , and rizatriptan Maxalt. Some patients require a second dose within 12 to 24 hours. Because the triptans can affect blood flow to the heart as well as the head, patients with cardiovascular disease should not use them.

Patients who take antidepressants in the SSRI family should also avoid triptans. Work with your doctor to find the migraine treatment that works best for you.

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Remember, though, that overuse can lead to rebound headaches and a vicious cycle of drugs and headaches. So, if you need treatment more than two or three times a week, consider preventive medications. Migraine prevention.

Some people can prevent migraines simply by avoiding triggers. Others do well with prompt therapy for occasional attacks. But patients who suffer frequent migraine attacks often benefit from preventive medications.