Headache is defined as pain in the head that may extend to your face or upper part of the neck, depending upon the reason. It can sometimes be quite complicated, and diagnosing it may take months and months. It has become one of the most prevalent conditions which every other person is suffering in today’s era. 1Manzoni, G. C. (2020, August 22) Source-PubMed
Lets save time and jump directly to the reasons for various headache.
At a glance view
Reasons for Your Headache
Now since you had a look at the reasons for various headache, you might want to dig a little more into the details of various types of headache, its symptoms, causes and its treatment. Finally, the highlight of this content; we will discuss how to shortlist the probable cause of your problem with a info-graphics designed by us. (This however should not be considered as a replacement of physician’s diagnosis).
Migraine headache is characterized by a pulsing sensation or throbbing pain usually experienced on either side of the head. In some cases, it may be felt in the entire head. 2Weatherall, M. W. (2015, May) Source-PubMed
If the headache is accompanied by nausea, a sharp sensation for vomiting as well as sensitivity to sound and light, then it is a clear indication of a migraine headache and is also considered as a prominent symptom by physicians to diagnose it. 3Weatherall, M. W. (2015, May) Source-PubMed
Causes/Triggers of Migraine Headache
What happens during a migraine?
Migraine is triggered due to excessive release of calcitonin gene-related peptide and serotonin. These chemicals cause swelling in the lining of the blood vessels of the brain, resulting in pain and inflammation.8Bahra, A. (2011, December) Source-PubMed
Triggers for Migraine Headache
Following are some of the triggers that cause excessive secretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide and serotonin:-
Note: It is vital to identify the trigger for your migraine as it will help your physician treat you effectively and efficiently
Treatment of Migraine Headache
Broadly, there are three ways to manage migraine headache i.e by adopting changes in the lifestyle, by taking medications or by following alternate forms of treatment.
1. Lifestyle Changes for the treatment of Migraine Headache
What is the best thing to do for a migraine?
Adapting changes in the lifestyle is perceived as an one of the most effective ways of managing migraine headache. Following are some of the ways (stress management and changes in dietary and sleep habits ) in which it can be achieved:-
In the majority of cases, the reason for migraine headaches is found to be stress. Various techniques like mindful breathing, meditation, and yoga can prove out to be the panacea. The following yoga poses should be performed daily to manage stress and eventually headache9Kisan, R., Sujan, M., Adoor, M., Rao, R., Nalini, A., Kutty, B. M., . . . Sathyaprabha, T. (2014, July) Source-Pubmed
2. Medications for the Treatment of Migraine Headache10Ong, J. J., & De Felice, M. (2018, April) Source-Pubmed
Over the counter Medications
Diclofenac Sodium, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and ibuprofen are some of the over the counter medications which can be taken just before the onset of the migraine, when you start feeling the onset of symptoms. Out of these 3, diclofenac sodium is the most effective.
Note: Excessive use/ overdose of these OTC medications can cause serious harm to your body. Please seek medical advice before consuming either of these medicines.
Your prescription medications may include the following:-
3. Alternate forms of Treatment for Migraine Headache
2- Tension Headache
Just like migraine headaches, tension headache is also a prevalent problem11Chowdhury, D. (2012, August) Source-Pubmed, which a majority of individuals suffer from, these days. It is not as horrible as a migraine headache; however, still, it can not be ignored as it disrupts the ability of a human to complete, day to day tasks.
The distinguishing factor about this type of headache is the feeling of pressure or force in the head, eyes, and neck. This type of problem occurs during the latter part of the day and is mainly associated with stress. Physicians, therefore, sometimes refer to tension headaches as a stress headache.
Causes of Tension Headache
Unlike Migraine headache, tension headache is not genetic. The primary reason for it is stress, which may include physical stress, emotional stress, and anxiety 13Chowdhury, D. (2012, August) Source-Pubmed. Other causes of tension headache are as follows:-
Treatment of Tension Headache
An ideal way to treat tension headache is by incorporating lifestyle changes however to catalyst the treatment, doctors sometimes prefer prescribing medications. Following are the two ways of treating tension headache:-
1. Lifestyle Changes for the treatment of Tension Headache
2. Medications for the Treatment of Tension Headache14Chowdhury, D. (2012, August) Source-Pubmed
Prescription medications for tension headaches usually are based on symptoms experienced by the patient.
Note: A physician may prescribe medicines to relieve you from pain; however, it’s you who has to bring in the change by breaking the vicious cycle of stress and headache.
Over the counter Medications
In case of a minor headache, over the counter (OTC) pain killers can help you; however, it is advised to directly check with your physician which OTC medication would suit you the best.
Depending upon the underlying cause of tension headache, your physician may prescribe you anti-depressants, sedatives, or medicine for blood pressure.
3- Sinus Headache
Sinus Headache is caused due to the inflammation of the sinus cavities located behind the forehead, nose, eyes, and cheeks. Inflammation builds up pressure in the head, which results in sinus headaches. The pain can be felt on either side of the head.15Kaur, A., & Singh, A. (2013) Source-Pubmed
This type of headache is seasonal, and its trigger depends on the allergen that causes sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus cavities)
Causes of Sinus Headache
Sinus headache is caused due to the inflammation (Sinusitis) of the cavity behind the head. An allergen or an infection may cause inflammation in the cavity leading to headaches.
Since it takes time for the human body to subside the infection, therefore this type of headache could be a cause of daily headaches.
Treatment of Sinus Headache
Since in most of the cases, sinus headache is found to be chronic in nature, therefore along with medicines, it makes sense to make use of home remedies to get relief from the misery of sinus headaches, whenever possible. Following are the various ways of treating sinus headaches:-
1. Home Remedies for the Treatment of Sinus Headache Treatment
2. Medications for the Treatment of Sinus Headache Treatment
Over the counter Medications
Tylenol or Advil can help you decrease the headache due to sinus. These medications will not treat the infection in the cavity; instead, it will reduce the pain so that you can continue with your day to day work.
Note: Excessive use/ overdose of these OTC medications can cause serious harm to your body. Please consult your physician before consuming these medicines.
Your physician may prescribe antihistamines, decongestants, and mucolytics. In cases of severe infection, antibiotics might also be prescribed.
3. Surgery for the Treatment of Sinus Headache Treatment
In severe cases where sinus becomes chronic, balloon sinuplasty might be recommended by your physician.
4- Cluster Headache
Cluster headache is a rare form of headache. It causes intense pain and occurs cyclically, i.e., generally at the same time every day. It is, therefore, also known as cluster headache.18Wei, D. Y., Yuan Ong, J. J., & Goadsby, P. J. (2018, April) Source-Pubmed
Piercing and severe burning pain is the distinguishable characteristic of cluster headache. In the majority of cases, it has been observed that the patient gets episodes of cluster headache in the night while sleeping.
Causes of Cluster Headache
Cluster headache is caused when a nerve pathway (which includes the trigeminal nerve) in the brain gets activated. The trigger seeds deep inside the brain located near the hypothalamus. The trigeminal nerve causes flashes of redness and pain in the face and behind the eyes, respectively. It further branches to the forehead and the jaw and thereby may extend the pain along with its branches.
Following are some of the triggers that may cause cluster headache:-
Treatment of Cluster Headache
There are three ways to treat and manage cluster headache i.e. home remedies, medications or surgery. Following is a detailed explanation:-
1. Home Remedies for the Treatment of Cluster Headache Treatment
2. Medications for the Treatment of Cluster Headache Treatment
Following are the prescription medicines20Brandt, R. B., Doesborg, P. G., Haan, J., Ferrari, M. D., & Fronczek, R. (2020, February) Source-Pubmed that your physician can prescribe depending upon the symptoms:-
3. Surgery for the Treatment of Cluster Headache Treatment
In severe cases, your physician may decide to block the trigeminal nerve to provide permanent relief from headaches; however, it may cause permanent numbness of the facial muscles.
5- Hormone Headache
How long do menstrual headache last?
The episodes of hormone headaches are experienced typically 2-3 days before the start of the mensuration cycle and end 2-3 days post the beginning of the mensuration cycle. This type of headache, if caused due to the changes in estrogen during mensuration, is termed as Menstrual Migraine. The symptoms of menstrual migraine resemble to those of migraine headaches.
What does a hormonal headache feel like?
Causes of Menstrual Migraine/Hormone Headache
The main cause of hormone headaches and menstrual migraine is fluctuation in the levels of estrogen in the body. Following are some of the reasons for the variations in the level of estrogen:-
Treatment of Hormone Headache / Menstrual Migraine
Menstrual headache can be managed with the help of home remedies and medications.
1. Home Remedies for the Treatment of Hormone Headache / Menstrual Migraine
How do you get rid of hormonal headaches naturally?
2. Medications for the Treatment of Hormone Headache / Menstrual Migraine22Macgregor, E. A. (2009, September) Source-Pubmed
Over the counter Medications
Note: Excessive use/ overdose of these OTC medications can cause serious harm to your body. Please consult your physician before consuming these medicines
In case if you are already consuming birth control pills or have undergone hormone replacement therapy, do let your physician know about it. This will help him in deciding an efficient treatment regime for you.
Following are some of the prescription medications that your physician might prescribe:-
6- Rebound Headache
Rebound headache is caused due to non-compliance with the recommended medication dose23Aleksenko, D. (2020, July 02) Source-Pubmed. When over the counter pain killers are consumed in excess (more than the prescribed/labeled dose), it results in rebound headache.
What does a rebound headache feel like?
Causes of Rebound Headache
Rebound headache is caused due to an overdose of pain killers. It leads to addiction to pain killers as an individual gets stuck in the vicious cycle of headaches and pain killers.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example. The recommended adult dose for acetaminophen is 500mg every 6 hours. An individual had a headache, and he consumed acetaminophen 1000 mg every 6 hours. The overdose not only will affect his liver functioning but will also cause a severe headache. Further, when the drug excretes out of the body, the withdrawal effect will again cause headaches, to treat which, the patient will again consume acetaminophen, and the vicious cycle continues from here on.24Fischer, M. A. (2020, June 30) Source-Pubmed
Treatment of Rebound Headache
The best way to break the vicious cycle of pain killer and rebound headache is through alternate form of treatment. Following are some of the ways of treating rebound headache. Further, to supplement the treatment, your physician might advise you some strategies to detoxify you body, which are also discussed below:-
1. Home Remedies for the Treatment of Rebound Headache
How do you get rid of rebound headaches naturally?
Acupressure for Rebound Headache Relief
Pressing the right acupressure points can provide you instant relief from headaches. This will help you treat the problem without consuming pain killer and will finally help you, come out of the vicious cycle of headache and pain killer
Apply pressure on the flesh in between the thumb and the index finger. Press 10 – 15 times and repeat 3-4 times a day.
Breathing exercises like ‘Anulom Vilom’, ‘Kapalbhati’ can help break the loop of headache and need for pain killers. To know, how its done, please check the section above.
Further various asanas like ‘Sun Salutation’ and ‘Child Pose’ can further help in relieving the problem.
Note: Always end yoga by cooling down your body. The easiest way to do it is to lie down on the mat for 5 minutes after completing the exercise.
Apply an ice pack on the area where you feel the pain in the head. This will help in providing temporary relief and will help you psychologically to avoid taking pain killer, which is very important to treat rebound headaches.
The use of topical peppermint oil provides a soothing effect and helps in escaping the need to consume a pain killer for headaches. To use it, you can put a few drops of the oil in your bathwater, and it will feel relieved. Alternatively, you can also put peppermint oil in water and inhale it through steam.
Avoid Caffeine and Soda
Consuming caffeine or soda may increase the intensity of the rebound headache
2. Clinical Treatment of Rebound Headache
Ultimately, you will be able to get rid of rebound headaches!
7- Thunderclap Headache
A thunderclap headache is quite a horrible form of headache which is known for causing unbearable pain. The apparent symptoms, apart from a painful headache are nausea and vomiting.25Ferrante, E., Tassorelli, C., Rossi, P., Lisotto, C., & Nappi, G. (2011, April) Source-Pubmed
Are thunderclap headaches serious?
Yes, it’s a serious form of headache. It triggers all of a sudden, may last for a few minutes, and then disappear. Patients who experience this type of problem require immediate hospitalization. You should rush to emergency department in case if you experience thunderclap headache.
What does a thunderclap headache feel like?
Causes of Thunderclap Headache
Triggering Factors for thunderclap headaches?
Arduous physical labor under unfavorable temperature is the most common trigger for a thunderclap headache
Treatment of Thunderclap Headache
Thunderclap headache, if not diagnosed or treated well on time, can cause severe damage to your body. Depending on the cause of thunderclap headaches, the physicians plan the treatment and medication regime.
Note: This should not be considered as a substitute for a clinical judgement made by your physician.
- 1Manzoni, G. C. (2020, August 22).
Epidemiology of headache. PubMed.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20816407/
- 2Weatherall, M. W. (2015, May).
The diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraine.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4416971/
- 3Burstein, R., Noseda, R., & Borsook, D. (2015, April 29).
Migraine: Multiple processes, complex pathophysiology.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4412887/
- 4Schürks, M., Buring, J. E., & Kurth, T. (2011, May).
Migraine features, associated symptoms and triggers: A principal component analysis in the Women's Health Study.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3100409/
- 5Gupta, R., & Bhatia, M. S. (2011, April).
Comparison of clinical characteristics of migraine and tension type headache.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136015/
- 6NH Raskin: Headache
2nd ed. New York, Churchill Livingston, 1988
- 7Bahra, A. (2011, December).
Primary Headache Disorders: Focus on Migraine.
Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590049/
- 8Kisan, R., Sujan, M., Adoor, M., Rao, R., Nalini, A., Kutty, B. M., . . . Sathyaprabha, T. (2014, July).
Effect of Yoga on migraine: A comprehensive study using clinical profile and cardiac autonomic functions.
Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097897/
- 9Ong, J. J., & De Felice, M. (2018, April).
Migraine Treatment: Current Acute Medications and Their Potential Mechanisms of Action.
Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5935632/
- 10Chowdhury, D. (2012, August).
Tension type headache.
Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3444224/
- 11Kaur, A., & Singh, A. (2013).
Clinical study of headache in relation to sinusitis and its management.
Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973877/
- 12Nair, S. (2012, June).
Nasal breathing exercise and its effect on symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Retrieved August 23, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392338/
- 13Wei, D. Y., Yuan Ong, J. J., & Goadsby, P. J. (2018, April).
Cluster Headache: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Diagnosis.
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5909131/
- 14SD;, K. (2015).
Effects of yoga exercises for headaches: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26311986/
- 15Brandt, R. B., Doesborg, P. G., Haan, J., Ferrari, M. D., & Fronczek, R. (2020, February). Pharmacotherapy for Cluster Headache.
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7018790/
- 16Sacco, S., Ricci, S., Degan, D., & Carolei, A. (2012, April).
Migraine in women: The role of hormones and their impact on vascular diseases.
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311830/
- 17Macgregor, E. A. (2009, September).
Menstrual migraine: Therapeutic approaches.
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002599/
- 18Aleksenko, D. (2020, July 02).
Medication Overuse Induced Headache (MOH).
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470171/
- 19Fischer, M. A. (2020, June 30).
Medication-overuse Headache (MOH).
Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538150/
- 20Ferrante, E., Tassorelli, C., Rossi, P., Lisotto, C., & Nappi, G. (2011, April).
Focus on the management of thunderclap headache: From nosography to treatment. Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3072477/
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