There’s no question headaches are the most common ailment affecting all generations. According to the National Headache Foundation, only migraines affect about 28 million Americans.
But, headaches can be triggered by various factors, from a common cold to PMS. Knowing the cause of your headache can help you deal with the condition much more easily.
Types of Headaches
The most common contributors to headaches include vascular problems (high blood pressure, toxic overload, etc.), muscle contractions (tension, stress, etc) and inflammation (infection).
1. TMJ Headache
A TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) headache occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and lower facial muscles. Common triggers include teeth grinding or clenching, tension in the jaw, dislocation of the jaw joint and arthritis. Although this pain originates in the jaw, it can spread upwards towards the cheeks, temples and ears or downwards to the neck and shoulder.
2. Sinus Headache
Inflamed or blocked sinuses often lead to a sinus headache, which affects the area behind the cheeks, nose and eyes. This type of pain worsens when bending forward or when waking up. Symptoms of sinus headaches are often similar to those of migraines. An allergic reaction, a tumor, or infections are the most common causes for inflamed sinuses.
3. Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches appear intermittently several times a day for months. This is usually followed by a headache-free period of up to 6 months. This type of headache is sharp and painful, and often lasts less than an hour. The pain is usually unexpected and unilateral (affecting only one side of the head). It often appears above the eye and near the temples. It’s sometimes accompanied by a bloodshot eye and runny nose.
4. Tension Headache
Stress and anxiety are the root causes for this type of headache. The tension headaches usually causes pressure, pulling and contractions that affect your temples, face and scalp as muscles tighten in your shoulders, neck and jaw. The duration can vary from a few minutes to a few days. Lack of sleep, missed meals, stressful situations, high emotions and alcohol are the most common contributors.
5. Neck Headache
Neck headaches, often referred to as cervicogenic headaches, don’t normally affect your head. The thing is, the pain occurs in the neck and shoulder blades and spreads to the head. Underlying causes include a pinched nerve, muscle knots, muscles damage, abnormal bone growths, tumours, tissue swelling and joint problems. This type of headache is normally relieved with massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment.
Migraines are characterized by sharp throbbing or pulsing sensations. Migraine headache is normally accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light or noise sensitivity. It can last from several minutes to several hours at a time. In severe cases, people have reported experiencing visual hallucinations such as an “aura”, dots or flashing lights, disruptions in smell, touch and taste or numbness. Migraines go away leaving you exhausted and unable to concentrate.
When To Talk To You Doctor
Headaches can indicate something more serious, according to the Nation Health Institute. The most serious causes of headaches include:
- Brain tumor
- Brain infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis, or abscess
- Problems with the blood vessels and bleeding in the brain, such as arteriovenous malformation (AVM), brain aneurysm, or stroke
- Bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissue that covers the brain
- Buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling (hydrocephalus)
- Buildup of pressure inside the skull that resembles, but is not a tumor (pseudomotor cerebri)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Sleep apnea
Any of the following symptoms are a red alert to seek medical attention instantly.
- Explosive or violent headache that occurs
- A terrible headache, even if you regularly get headaches.
- The headache is accompanied by slurred speech, a change in vision, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, or memory loss.
- It worsens over 24 hours.
- The headache is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting.
- The headache occurs with a head injury.
- Severe headache affecting just one eye and causing redness in that eye.
- Recurring headaches, especially if you are older than 50.
- The headaches are related to vision problems, pain while chewing, or weight loss.
- A history of cancer or immune system problem (such as HIV/AIDS) and new headache occurrence.
Although most people opt for over-the-counter pain relievers to soothe a bad migraine, these drugs can actually trigger “rebound headaches.” In other words, regular use of painkillers can actually start causing headaches.
On the other hand, there are natural solutions that can effectively relieve chronic headaches. The most beneficial include:
- Himalayan salt
- Ginger tea
- Lavender lemonade
- Vitamin B2
Drinking a large glass of water and taking some rest when a headache starts can also be beneficial.
Last, but not least, consulting a doctor, nutritionist or naturopath can help you identify the root cause of your headache, especially if you suffer from chronic headaches.
Watch the video below for more information on the subject.