Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints that can affect any one regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity. According to data presented by WHO (World Health Organization) approximately half of the population around the globe is expected to suffer from headache in a given year.
Headaches can range from milder forms which can be self-managed with over the counter pain medications, massages, exercise and other lifestyle modifications, while there are others which are more complicated and require consultation and treatment from a health professional.
5 types of headaches, most commonly encountered are:
These are the most common type of headaches experienced by teenagers and adults. This headache usually presents like a constant pressure or ache around the head, particularly at the temples or back of the head and neck. It feels as if you are wearing a tight band around your forehead. Medical experts are of the view that tension headaches occur due to contraction of neck and back of head muscles resulting from stress, fatigue, poor posture and keeping head in an improper position for long. Tension headaches are usually manageable with life style adjustments. However if the pain is frequent or persistent and have other associated symptoms, it calls for a consultation with health care provider.
A migraine headache is more intense, throbbing or pounding in nature. Migraine is episodic and each episode may last from 4-5 hours to 2-3 days and usually there are 3-4 episodes per month. Other associated symptoms are sensitivity to light, sounds and smell, irritability, nausea and vomiting with stomach pain.
Cluster headaches are less common but more severe type of headache, more commonly seen in men. It is characterized by sharp, piercing or burning type of pain in one side of head usually behind the eye. There may also be drooping and swelling of eyelid and nasal stuffing or nasal discharge from nostril of same side. These headaches are called ”cluster” because they come in form of groups or cycles occurring one or three times in a day and one cluster can remain for 2 weeks up till three months. One episode of cluster headache may last for 15 minutes to 3 hours and are severe enough to wake up the person from sleep.
Sinus headaches usually presents as a dull, constant pain in the forehead, cheekbones and bridge of nose. It is caused by sinusitis (infection of sinuses present in our face). This pain aggravates with sudden, jerky movement of head, or bowing of head and neck. It may also be accompanied with fever, facial swelling and other flu symptoms like stuffed or running nose. Nasal discharge due to infection is thick and yellowish- green in color as compared to clear and watery in cluster and migraine headaches.
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