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Headaches

What are Headaches?

A headache is a pain or discomfort felt in any region from the head or neck. Most headaches can be prevented by daily lifestyle choices, but chronic daily headaches can last for more than half a given month up to three months. Headaches are classified by the amount of time they last and there are different types of headaches: Chronic migraine, chronic tension-type headache, new daily persistent headache, and hemicranias continua, cluster headaches and sinus headaches.

Chronic migraine is a headache that occurs fifteen days or more a month for at least three months along with experiencing the symptoms listed below. Chronic tension-type headache is episodic that can last hours or be constant. New daily persistent headache are headaches that become constant within a few days of having the first headache. Hemicranias continua are headaches that only cause pain on one side of the head and do not shift from side to side but remain fixed. Cluster headaches are accompanied by sharp painful headaches that occur at different times of a single day for months and then go away for the same amount of time. Sinus headaches cause pain in the forehead and face.

Symptoms of Headaches

The symptoms for the four types of chronic daily headaches are:

  • Chronic Migraine
  • Affect only one side of the head
  • Pulsating pain
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Increases or flares up during physical activity
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Chronic tension-type headaches/New daily Persistent headache

  • Pain on both side of the head
  • Mild to moderate pain
  • Pain that feels like pressing or tightening instead of pulsating.
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Mild nausea

Hemicranias continua

  • Occur daily with no pain-free periods
  • Moderate pain with severe pikes of pain.
  • May develop migraine like symptoms
  • Tearing or redness of the eye on the affected side
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Constriction of pupil or dropping of the eyelid

Sinus headache

  • Pain worsens when bending forward and waking in morning
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal discharge
  • Postnasal drip

What Causes Headaches

Common headaches can be caused by tension in muscles that occur in the shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw these are considered tension headaches and can be related to anxiety, depression, or stress. Headaches can be triggered by under sleeping, missing meals, using drugs or alcohol, caffeine, cheese, chocolate, poor sleep positions, clenching or grinning of teeth, maintaining head in same location over an extended period of time.
Other causes of headaches can be inflammation of blood vessels around and in the brain. Infections also can cause headaches as well brain injury, and even a brain tumor.

Diagnosis of Headaches

A physical exam will be performed to check for illness, infections, and neurological problems. A blood or urine test will be given to see if there are any other medical conditions that are causing the headaches. Neurological tests rule out diseases of the brain or nerves and can sometimes show the cause of headaches and migraines.

Treatment of Headaches

The treatment of headaches can vary from stopping the use of painkillers that might be increasing headaches by overuse to simple rest.

A doctor can prescribe antidepressants that help to treat headaches alongside anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances that usually occur during chronic daily headaches. Beta blockers are most commonly used to treat high blood pressure these beta-blockers prevent frequent migraines. Anti-seizure medicine can prevent migraines and chronic daily headaches. No steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for severe headaches and when taking a person off painkillers.

How to prevent and manage Headaches

The best ways to prevent headaches from occurring are avoiding the triggers that make headaches possible. Avoid overuse of medication, too much can be a bad thing; even medicines that can be purchase over the counter can become harmful. Taking some pain relief medication will aide in headaches, but taking it as often as twice in a week can cause headaches to become more severe.

Getting enough sleep is one key to reduced headaches, along with maintaining a schedule sleep pattern. Exercising can help reduce stress, which in return can reduce the chance of coming down with headaches as stress related headaches are the top reasons for them. Eating meals on time and eating foods and drinking drinks that do not carrying ingredients such as caffeine and other triggers of headaches will lower the chances of headaches. Some medications include caffeine in them to reduce headache pains. Like painkillers, caffeine taken in amounts too large will do more damage than good; resulting in more severe pain.

 


References:
http://www.medicinenet.com/headache/article.htm#tocb
http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/default.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003024.htm
http://www.headaches.org/
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/headaches/HE00001