A headache is a painful sensation in any part of the head. Headaches can produce many different types of pain, such as dull, sharp, or throbbing, and can also occur with other symptoms such as light sensitivity or neck pain. While headaches make it feel like your brain is hurting, this is not actually what is happening, as brains are unable to experience pain themselves. Instead your brain tells other parts of your body when they are feeling pain. Most headaches are pain in the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles within your head and neck, not the actual brain itself. Headaches are horrible to deal with, so people will often take painkillers to stop feeling the effects of the headache. While this may help short-term, all this is doing is covering up the symptoms. Headaches are usually there due to an underlying issue, and your first step to getting rid of them should be to figure out what is causing them in the first place. There are many different things that can cause headaches, and many different types of headaches. In this article I will discuss a few of the most common types of headaches, so you can have a better understanding of what is going on with your head, and therefore how you can help it.
Headaches are separated into 2 categories; primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are when the pain in your head is the condition, and is not being caused by something else happening in your body. Secondary headaches are a symptom of something else that is happening in your body, such as an illness or an allergy.
Tension Headaches: Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and are a primary headache. Pain can range from mild to intense, and can cause pain behind the eyes, in your head, and down into your neck. A lot of people describe a tension headache as a tight band around their forehead. They can also cause tenderness in the head, neck, and scalp. In some cases they can also cause light and sound sensitivity. These headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and the neck, squeezing too hard on the head and causing pain. These headaches are often caused by stress, but can also be caused by things such as staring at a computer screen for too long, driving for too long, or not getting enough sleep. For this type of headache you need to identify what the trigger is and do what you can to prevent it. You may need to take more breaks from your computer screen, get more sleep, drink more water, make sure you’re getting enough to eat, or do what you can to reduce stress in your life.
Migraines: A migraine is a severe throbbing or pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Migraines are primary headaches. Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last anywhere from hours to even days for some people. Migraines tend to be the most severe form of headache, and often the pain is so severe that it interferes with that person’s daily activities. People with migraines often get a warning sensation before the migraine starts, called an aura. An aura can consist of visual disturbances such as flashes of light or blind spots, or things like tingling in the face or in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking. Migraines are still largely misunderstood, but it is thought that genetic and environmental factors play a role. For migraines there are many things that can trigger them, so you should aim to reduce these things and work out what the trigger may be. Possible triggers can be stress, not enough sleep, alcohol, caffeine, medications such as oral contraceptives, and foods such as cheeses, overly processed foods, and sweeteners. If you are not able to reduce your migraines through lifestyle changes, have a talk to your chiropractor or your GP to see how they can help.
Types of Headaches
Cervicogenic Headaches: Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that come from issues in the neck. These are secondary headaches. Cervicogenic headaches tend to start from the neck, come up into the back of the head, and then radiate towards the front of the head. These headaches can often be confused with tension headaches or migraines, as they can all experience neck pain. These headaches are caused by structural problems with the spine in the neck, which can also cause issues with the surrounding muscles. If you are suffering from cervicogenic headaches, the best person to go see is a chiropractor. Chiropractors are able to find the dysfunctions in your spine that are causing the headaches, and address them using chiropractic adjustments. This stops the cause of the headaches, rather than just covering up the symptoms with pain killers.
Hormone Headaches: Hormone headaches are headaches caused by fluctuations of your hormones, and are secondary headaches. A common cause of these is birth control pills. If you have started getting headaches since starting birth control pills, it may be a hormone headache, and you should talk to your GP about other options for birth control. Hormone headaches can also happen during menstruation. Things that can help with these include relaxation techniques, acupuncture, yoga, and eating a healthy diet.
Caffeine Headaches: Caffeine headaches are caused by caffeine consumption, and are a secondary headache. Caffeine affects the way blood flows to your brain, and having too much can put pressure on the blood vessels in the head, leading to a headache. If you are suffering from headaches due to your caffeine consumption, it is a very good idea to cut back. You may want to even consider stopping caffeine consumption completely. One thing you should be aware of if you do choose to stop drinking caffeine completely is that you can sometime get a caffeine withdrawal headache, if you choose to quit cold turkey. Caffeine affects your brain chemistry and your brain gets used to this, so if you suddenly stop drinking it, this can produce a withdrawal headache. This wont last for too long, and quitting from caffeine is definitely better for your health in the long run, but if these headaches make it too difficult to quit all at once, you can look at slowly reducing your caffeine intake over time.