What causes headaches?
The problem is that there are many different types of headaches. You probably know the cause of some……too much alcohol, not enough sleep, too much stress at work, not having your morning or afternoon caffeine. This list can go on and on. The solution may be just as easy as the cause for many of these headaches such as drink more water or get more sleep. If the answer is not found in drinking more water or reducing your stress you may need to have a healthcare professional help you find the answer. Some of the deeper causes of headaches may be high blood pressure or an old injury that you experienced but never fully recovered. Approximately 45 million people in the United States suffer from headaches each year. That is roughly 1 in 6 individuals. This equates to be 112 million “bedridden” days per year with lost productivity in the work force and loss in quality of life.
What are some of the most common types of headaches?
The 5 most common types of headaches include:
Migraines (with and without aura): The classic presentation of a Migraine Head ache is usually a female patient that complains of a throbbing or a pulsating headache on one side of the head. There may be visual disturbance such as lights or a blind spot. These are Migraines with an Aura. If you do not experience the visual disturbances, then you may just experience the Common Migraine. Pain can become so bad that it is debilitating and cause you to miss work and seek a dark, quiet environment. You may also experience nausea and vomiting.
Tension Headaches: These headaches come frequently and become worse in the afternoon or early evening. Pain is usually described on both sides of the head, usually at the base of the skull or above the eyes.
Cervicogenic Headaches: Patients with cervicogenic headaches are usually daily and will be accompanied by stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulders. There also may be some overlap in the symptoms from other types of headaches as well.
Cluster Headaches: the patient is often middle-aged and may have a history of smoking or alcohol abuse. The pain is usually felt behind the eyes. The headaches cluster over a period of days or even weeks and then suddenly stop but usually appear again days or weeks later. They usually only last for short bursts, maybe:30 minutes in duration but the pain is very severe and is often described as the most pain the patient has ever felt.
Temporal Arteritis Headaches: The patient that experiences these headaches complain of pain on one side of the head in the temple region. It is associated with a tender nodule on the same side. The patient may also complain of aching and fatigue in the shoulders, visual abnormalities a sudden onset of blindness or a short period of time.
When to seek medical help?
Although they are a common ailment, headaches are not “normal”. Many times, we know the cause of a headache if they are associated with not eating breakfast, not drinking enough water, alcohol consumption or a symptom of the flu. When patients seek treatment for their headaches it is because the headaches have become unbearable or are affecting the patient’s life in a negative way. If this sounds like you or someone you know it is important to be evaluated. There may be a reason why you are experiencing the headaches in the first place and there is usually something that can be done to improve them and your quality of life. Schedule an appointment today to see how we can help you.