How many times in your life have you ever had a headache? Some people are unlucky and seem to get headaches every other day while other people only ever get headaches once in a blue moon. Why is this? Do genes play a part? Some people describe their headaches as tight, heavy or nausea inducing, whereas others simply have a dull ache on one side of their temple. Headaches come in all shapes and sizes, and as such, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to treating them.
Many doctors and scientists have been researching headaches for centuries. Some have concluded that there are many different types of headache that require specific and specialist treatment. Others have also noted that some may be psychosomatic or at least mental rather than acutely physiological. However, if you suffer from a headache at any given time, it causes pain, untold misery and can impact on the quality of your life. Take a look at how we can unravel the mystery of headaches, looking at each type and the sorts of treatment you could explore.
Migraines are seen as the daddy of all headaches. They can be brought on by a range of triggers from food to tiredness and sufferers may have to combat them multiple times a week. Others are a little more fortunate and have them once or twice a year. A migraine can feel strange for the sufferer as they can experience visual disturbances such as blind spots, bright lights and kaleidoscope type vision. Tingling sensations can accompany the headache as can speech difficulties and issues with noise and light. This can be terrifying for the sufferer but also scary for the people around them.
There are a range of drugs on the market now including a special variety called triptans that aim to halt a migraine in its tracks. This can save a sufferer from hours of vomiting and lying in a darkened room. Other people swear by having a certain part of their body pierced. Many believe daith piercing and migraines are closely interlinked and that by having a piece of cartilage in their ear pierced migraine symptoms can be alleviated. It might also pay to attend yoga classes and mindfulness to ease the stress of everyday life.
Migraines tend to affect those people with a history of headaches in the family. you might also be predisposed to them if you have a medical history of depression and epilepsy. Remember to always stay vigilant and watch out for signs of meningitis. Not every headache could be a migraine - it could be something else.
Tension headaches are very common with nearly everyone experiencing them at some point, mainly after a long day or in the morning because of lack of sleep. Characterized by pressure behind the eyes and a heavy feeling in the head, tension headaches are usually short lived and don’t tend to be accompanied by vomiting. Over the counter painkillers tend to help, but try to rest and do nothing for a couple of hours post-headache. By lying down, you are allowing your blood to flow through your brain at a more regulated pace and your blood pressure will level out, reducing pain.
Cluster headaches are one of the more unusual headaches. They are more common in women and start suddenly with a searing pain behind one eye. Movement can cause intense pain and there is increased sensitivity to light and sound. Oddly, the headache is often accompanied by watery eyes, a blocked nose and yawning.
Listen to your body, and if you are yawning, lie down and take a nap. Just twenty minutes asleep can be beneficial to your symptoms and you could wake up with none at all. Sometimes these headaches can be mistaken for a flu virus or hayfever. However, if your symptoms are severe enough to take time off work, you should visit your doctor for more proactive treatment.
Suffering from headaches can have a massive impact on your life. While having the odd acute symptom can be managed, suffering from chronic migraines, cluster or tension headaches can lead to severe mental health anguish. It's vital that you pay a visit to your doctor for a full consultation. They can suggest a range of treatments that can limit your symptoms and make your day to day life so much easier. Headaches are still a bit of a mystery, but there are things you can do to make them easier to cope with.