Health Tip - Headache Management

Published Date: Friday, June 8, 2018

Headaches are a big headache. While it is okay to have a one-off pain in the head, a constant nagging headache is not good. It is, however, one of the most common medical problems and can affect a person’s social life, school/office work, and overall quality of life. The pain in the head is caused by a problem in the nerve supply, blood supply, muscles, or other tissues in the brain/head region.

There are various reasons for a headache and the most common ones are listed below along with some measures that you make take to cure a headache.

  1. Sinus headaches: Sinusitis of any of the 4 sinuses in the head region is accompanied by a headache. The exact location of the headache can depend on the sinus affected, but there is also fever, heaviness in the head, shortness of breath and congestion. During an attack, the patient is usually given antibiotics to get rid of the infection along with decongestants to clear up the airway.
  2. Migraines: Usually running in families, migraines are characteristic in being one-sided, throbbing pain that is associated with sensitivity to light and noise, nauseaand vomiting. These can last from 4 to 72 hours and can be preceded by an aura. People with migraines, after some trial and error, identify the best medication that works for them and use it when the aura sets in. They should also avoid light and sound if they are sensitive.
  3. Tension headaches: There is a feeling of tension or pressure around the head in the area of the head and neck. The discomfort is not as disabling as migraines and there are no associated symptoms. Regular pain killers like aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen are usually effective.
  4. Cluster headaches: These headaches occur in cycles or clusters and hence the name. Often one-sided, the patient will also have congestion, watery eyes, and runny nose on the same side as the pain. Regular pain medications are again the most commonly used mode of management.
  5. Rebound headaches: When a person uses too much painkillers to manage aches and pains, they can rebound and cause headache. This can be a withdrawal symptom as the dose of the medicine level drops and subsides over a period of time.

There are multiple other forms of headaches caused by spinal disorders, caffeine intake, menstrual cycles, chronic cough, hangovers, tumors of the head/face/neck, encephalitis, meningitis, post traumatic episodes, temporal arteritis, etc.

While most headaches are self-limiting, if there are associated symptoms like increased frequency, blurring of vision, seizures, stiff neck, fainting, coordination issues, then further investigation is immediately warranted. These could be indicative of a more serious condition like a stroke or internal hemorrhage and need immediate attention.

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