HEADACHES (TYPES AND CAUSES)
In most recent times, headache has become almost a daily experience for most people and it has most often being seen as “one of the daily experiences" that one has to deal with. With the ever-increasing demand from computer use and our daily struggles to make ends meet, one could argue that headache is bound to occur sooner than later. But the question is, is every headache associated with daily stress? Or is there more to headaches than we know? In our blog this week, we will discuss a bit more in detail what headache is and the types that we have as well as what they signify.
WHAT IS HEADACHE?
Headache is described as pain one experiences in the head or around the face or eyes. It can also be a throb or pressure either intermittent or constant. This pain or pressure or throbbing can be felt on one side of the head or on both sides, or in the front part of the head, or at the posterior area of the head.
CAUSES OF HEADACHE
Headaches are not always as a result of an underlying disease. Below are the most common causes of headaches that are not as a result of disease state or infection.
• Having a cold or flu
• Eyesight problems
• Too much screen time(usually at a close distance of about 30 to 50 cm from the eyes)
• Skipping meals of not eating regularly
• Too much Alcohol consumption.
These causes are not life threatening and the headaches associated with them usually goes away on their when there is either rest or proper care of oneself. Headaches usually goes away within 3 days with or without use of painkillers.
Headaches that persist over 3 days should become suspicious of disease condition or infection or both. One is advised to consult a medical doctor for advise.
There are ways by which you ease headaches yourself especially when the body has undergone stress. Headaches can last between 30 minutes to several hours or even days.
Do the following if you develop headache
• Drink plenty of water, you may be dehydrated. • Take some break from work stress – stress can worse headache.
• Get plenty of rest if you have cold or flu.
• Take over-the-counter painkillers to analgesic tablets.
• Avoid alcohol consumption during the period of headache.
• Rest but do not sleep too much as it can worsen the 8headache.
• Avoid use of the screen – computer or your digital devices.
WHEN SHOULD ONE SEEK MEDICAL ADVISE OR SEE A DOCTOR WHEN I HAVE A HEADACHE?
We will enumerate a few signs or symptoms that should prompt you to book appointment for a medical check up. They are as follow.
• The headache persists over a day without pain killers
• The headaches persists over 3 days with painkillers, rest, rehydration, etc.
• When the ache is severe and is on the front(frontal) or side(temporal) of the head – it could migraine, cluster headache or even an eye defect such as astigmatism or hyperopia. • General malaise, fever or nausea.
• Photophobia or increased light sensitivity.
TYPES OF HEADACHES There are various types of headache. We will discuss 4 types in this blog. These 4 are the major and common types that we get to experience and the other types of headaches have very similar symptoms of these four.
1. TENSION HEADACHES: this is the most common headache. It is categorised as a primary headache because it is not as a result of an underlying illness that goes away when the illness or disease goes away. This is experienced as a dull ache or pressure across the forehead or the sides of the head. Tension headaches can resolve on their own though use of painkillers or stress reduction can help alleviate the aches.
2. MIGRAINE HEADACHES: Migraine headaches have a neurological aetiology, and are much worse than tension headaches. It usually presents with a throbbing pain with symptoms like pain, general malaise(tiredness), nausea, temporary loss of vision, light sensitivity coming from exposure to triggers such as noise, light, or movement. Migraine pains are always on one side of the head. Research shows it is the sixth most disabling disease in the world. If you experience any or more of the symptoms mentioned above, kindly see a medical doctor. Migraine will most likely get worse with more exposure to light, sound or physical activity.
3. CLUSTER HEADACHES: This type of headache is more severe than migraine headache. It presents as one sided, severe throbbing pain in the head. It is called cluster headache because of its nature – presenting in clusters or groups and then goes away temporarily, for some people. It could last for about 45 to 60 minutes, maybe shorter, and will happen about 6 to 8 times in 24 hours. If you have this symptom of headache, kindly reach out to your medical professional for advise.
4. NEW DAILY PERSISTENT HEADACHES(NDPH): This is a rare type of headache. The cause maybe unknown and last for months or even years with treatment. If you have a non-stop headache that is persistent for up to 3 months or more, you are most likely to be suffering from NDPH. Symptoms of NDPH may present as either as Tension headaches or Migraine or both symptoms. The cause of NDPH is relatively unknown, however people who have NDPH generally have gone through stressful events or other triggers. Most notable trigger is infection – viral or bacterial infection could cause NDPH.
Consult your medical doctor when you have similar symptoms. Other types of headaches include hormonal headaches, dehydration headaches, sinus headaches, headaches as a result of eye problems(asthenopia), etc.
Headache as a result of eye problems usually present with a moderate to severe throbbing pain around the front part of the head or most often around the eyes either one-sided or on both eye regions. Prescription glasses can help asthenopia(aches around the front side of the head around the eyes.
Causes of asthenopia are prolonged use of computer at close distance of about 40cm from the eyes, reading for a long time without rest, and for people who need glasses to comfortably focus on near objects but do not use glasses.
Please consult your eye doctor if you are experiencing asthenopic symptoms for a comprehensive eye examination.