Headache pains are felt very common at the level of the skull. There are several types of headaches which cause vast majority of syndromes:
- Tension headaches which also encompass the chronic daily headache
- Migraine headaches
- Cluster headache (Horton’s headache)
The tension-type headache is the most common one which is felt as a local voltage at the level of the skull and is often connected to stress or anxiety, lack of sleep, hunger or alcohol abuse.
According to the International Society of Headache, there are three types of tension headaches :
Infrequent episodes of headache: Less than 12 episodes per year, each episode may last from 30 minutes up to 7 days.
Frequent headache episodes: 1 to 14 episodes per month on average, each episode may last from 30 minutes up to 7 days.
Daily chronic headache:It is felt at least 15 days per month for at least 3 months. The headache may last several hours and often on an ongoing basis.
How to Understand Whether it is Migraine or Tension Headache?
Migraine is a peculiar form of headache. It is manifested by attacks of intensity ranging from mild up to very intense pains which can last from a few hours to several days. A migraine attack often starts with a pain felt on only one side of the head or localized near one eye. The pain is often perceived as pulsations in the skull and it is aggravated by light and noise. Migraine can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
The exact causes of migraine are still poorly known. Some factors such as hormonal changes or certain foods are identified as triggers. Women are 3 times more affected by migraines than men.
Cluster headache (Horton’s headache) is characterized by frequent headaches as short but extremely intense and occur especially at night. The pain is felt around one eye and then extend it in the face, but it is always unilateral and always on the same side. The episodes can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours, several times per day and lasting a few weeks to several months. This type of headache is more common in men.
Attention: There are multiple other causes of a headache which some of these may be the sign of a serious disease. A doctor should be consulted in case of headache if it is sudden and intense.
- Pain on both sides of the head which can increase around the eyes. This pain gives the impression of a band tightening around the head which radiates sometimes into the neck.
- Tension in the muscles of the neck and shoulders which sometimes become sensitive to touch.
- Disorders of concentration and difficulty falling asleep.
It is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as possible if headache is accompanied by:
- Stiffness in the neck
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain in the eye or in the ear
Risk Factors of Headache
Adults: Headaches affect as many adults as children. They are more frequent and more intense in adults and reach a peak until around the age of 40 years.
Women: Tension headaches are experienced more frequently in women and are often related to the menstrual cycle.
Risk factors are ;
- The periods of the menstrual cycle in female
- Stress or anxiety
- Poor posture or prolonged in the same position
- Bruxism (tooth-grinding)
How to Prevent Headache?
A preventive treatment may be recommended when:
- Headache often appears
- Headaches are not relieved by usual medications
- Headaches become very uncomfortable and require you to take pain relievers too often (for example, more than 2 or 3 times per week)
The most common methods to reduce the frequency or severity of tension-type headache are:
- Reduction of stress.
- Reduction of the consumption of alcohol.
- Regular exercises such as swimming or walking.
- An ergonomic workstation that reduces the strain on muscles cervical.
- Some preventive drugs.
Medical Treatment of The Headache
The headaches go away usually themselves and can be relieved with the help of a painkiller sold in pharmacies.
Counter Pain Medicines;
- acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Liqui-Gels Advil®)
ATTENTION to the headaches caused by the abuse of drugs. It is not recommended to take medication for headaches more than 2 or 3 times per week.
Prescription drugs can be prescribed to relieve attacks of headache point but they are mainly used in a preventive way to decrease the frequency and intensity of seizures.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen or ketorolac can be taken regularly every day for a certain period of time. However, these drugs are some side effects.
- Anti-depressants (such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline or anticonvulsants)
- Muscle Relaxants, such as tizamidine.
- Triptans, ergotamine and dihydroergotamine are useful in the prevention of tension headaches associated with migraines.
- To prevent algie vascular face and reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures , several drugs can be used including verapamil.