How to Treat Headaches Quickly?

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

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Headaches are among the most common and debilitating of all neurovascular disorders. They range from mild to debilitating and can cause severe pain and nausea. It affects approximately 1 million people each year.

Headaches can be caused by a number of factors: sinus congestion, muscle tension, dehydration, stress, and even poor posture. The good news is that there are many ways to treat your headaches. You don’t have to suffer till it subsides.

Headaches are a common condition, especially among those who work at desks. From sitting at your desk for long hours, your neck and shoulders may get sore from bending over, which can trigger a headache.

Thus, headaches have a wide range of reasons. Let’s analyze the headaches and their causes in greater detail.

Types of Headaches

Headaches are a common medical condition that can affect anyone at any time. However, there are two main categories of headaches: primary and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches are caused by inflammatory processes in the brain and spinal cord. These headaches are also called neuropathic headaches because they are caused by problems with nerves in the head or neck. Common causes of primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension-type headaches.

Secondary headaches are caused by disorders of blood vessels in the head or neck. Common causes include sinusitis, vascular disease, and certain medications.

The main difference between the two types is that a secondary headache has a treatable underlying reason as the cause, while a primary headache occurs due to brain aeitiology itself.

Headaches are often a symptom of a more serious condition such as sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) or hypertension (high blood pressure). If you experience frequent headaches that last more than three days, it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options!

Primary Headaches

This primary headache is defined as a headache that has no identifiable cause and can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or a feeling of pressure behind the eyes. There are several types of primary headaches.

Migraine:

This is commonly known as a migraine, and it can last from 24 hours to 72 hours. Migraines can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes pain in other parts of your body. The cause of migraines is often unknown, but they’re thought to be related to brain chemistry or an underlying problem in the nervous system.

Exertional or exercise headaches:

This type of headache occurs when you’re fatigued, exercising, or overstressed. You may have a headache that occurs in your neck, back of the head, and temple area. These headaches are common among athletes and people who lift weights regularly.

Tension-type headaches:

These headaches are the result of muscle tension, which can lead to pain and tenderness in the muscles of the head, neck, and face. Tension headaches can occur from too much activity or stress, but they are often caused by dehydration or too much fluid intake. This is because dehydration causes constriction in blood vessels, which increases pressure on brain tissue.

Cluster headache:

This is characterized by intense pain on both sides of the head that lasts from 15 minutes to an hour and can trigger nausea, vomiting, jaw clenching, dizziness, and fainting. The pain occurs in clusters, which last from several days to several weeks at a time and occur once every week or two.

Hypnic headaches (Alarm Clock Headaches): These are a type of headache that happens when you fall asleep and wake up suddenly with no warning whatsoever.

Symptoms of Primary Headache

These are the headaches that are most commonly treated.

Migraine

Migraine is characterized by unilateral or bilateral throbbing pain with or without aura.

Exertional Headaches

Exertional headaches include fatigue, sweating, dehydration, and headaches that worsen with exertion.

Tension-Type Headache

A constant band-like pain over the forehead

Cluster Headache

A unilateral headache with severe eye pain on the same side that appears in clusters (6-8 clusters per day).

Hypnic headaches (Alarm Clock Headaches)

Unilateral facial pain or headache. The headache occurs around 1–3 am or a consistent time per day.

The Causes of Primary Headaches

Migraine

There are no specific causes for migraines. There are several theories about their cause, including blood vessel spasms in the brain and inflammation of blood vessels in the brain (vasospasm). It’s possible that migraines might be inherited or that they could be caused by certain medications or supplements. There are also various environmental factors that may contribute to migraines, including stress, lack of sleep, and obesity or being overweight.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are the most common kind of headache disorder. They are usually associated with tension and stress, and they can be caused by a variety of factors. Stress, anxiety, depression, overuse of caffeine or other stimulants, and hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause can trigger tension-type headaches.

Cluster Headaches

The causes of cluster headaches are still not well understood, but there is some evidence that a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm may play a role. Other causes are an overactive immune system, an imbalance of hormones or neurotransmitters related to stress and anxiety, genetic factors, etc.

Hypnic Headaches

This can happen if you have a long, twisting neck or head, anemia (low blood oxygen), and sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing during sleep, causing a buildup of carbon dioxide in your blood.

Exertional or Exercise Headaches

One of the most common causes is dehydration. Other causes include pregnancy, heart disease, high blood pressure, aging, head injury, stress, anxiety, or depression, etc.

Treatments for Primary Headaches

Tension Headaches

While over-the-counter medications like aspirin and ibuprofen may provide some relief from your symptoms, relaxation, breathing techniques, and rehydration are also needed to heal tension headaches.

Migraine

There is a range of treatments available for migraines, but the most effective for most people are prescription medicines. These include triptans (e.g., Imitrex), ergotamines (e.g., Cafergot), anticonvulsants (e.g., Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), Other than these reliever medications such as pain killers and lifestyle modifications needed to treat migraine,

Cluster Headaches

The most common treatment for cluster headaches is pain medication. In severe cases, this may need to be combined with a muscle relaxant. Other treatments, such as ice packs, and heat packs, which can also be helpful. Triptans, Botox injections, and steroids all help to prevent clusters.

Hypnic Headaches

These are usually treated with relaxation techniques, stress management, and painkillers. To prevent headache attacks, lithium carbonate, bedtime caffeine, and indomethacin are used.

Types of Secondary Headaches

Post-traumatic Headaches

This is often associated with traumatic events, such as car accidents or falls. Headache pain can range from mild to severe, and it can have a significant impact on the quality of life of the person experiencing it.

Headaches caused by pain medication overuse

A patient who overuses pain medications for headaches will experience rebound headaches because the pain will no longer respond to the same medication. This can result in a chronic headache.

Sinus Headache

Infections can cause inflammation in your nose and sinuses, as well as swelling in your ears. This can lead to a sinus headache because the pressure on your brain from all that swelling forces it to push against your skull, which can cause pain and pressure.

Symptoms of Secondary Headaches

Post-traumatic headache

  • Headache that is not relieved by painkillers
  • Headache that occurs in the morning and lasts throughout the day
  • Headaches that occur with physical or emotional stress, such as after a stressful event or when you’re anxious, worried, or upset
  • Headache that is more frequent than usual (once a month instead of once every two weeks)
  • Headache may be accompanied by memory loss, depression, vertigo, irritability, etc.

Headaches from pain medication overuse: These headaches are usually mild and short-term, occurring within a few hours after taking pain medication. Headaches will appear daily, associated with irritability.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headache will have tension in the forehead, pressure on the eye, pain behind one or both eyes, Vomiting, nausea, fever, rhinorrhea, and cough.

Other Causes of Secondary Headaches

Caffeine withdrawal

Caffeine withdrawal headache is a common reaction to caffeine consumption. It occurs when your body stops metabolizing the caffeine that it has been getting from coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and other products containing caffeine.

Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal headache include dizziness, nausea, sweating, and restlessness.

Pregnancy

Most women who experience headaches during pregnancy will have them throughout their entire pregnancy, but some women only get headaches in the last trimester or after delivery. The reasons behind pregnancy-related headaches can be fluid overload, dehydration, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

High Blood Pressure

The symptoms of high blood pressure include headaches, vertigo, vomiting, joint pains, and dizziness.

Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are a common and serious medical condition. In many cases, they are benign, but in some cases, they can be cancerous. While brain tumors can affect the brain itself, they also have the potential to cause headaches. There may be localizing signs, cranial nerve signs, high blood pressure, etc.

Head Injury

Head injury may cause a transient headache that may last over weeks or months

Bleeding in Your Brain

Bleeding may cause continuous increase in intracranial pressures and pain

Secondary Headache Treatment

Post-traumatic headaches

These are typically treated with medications that help relieve pain and promote relaxation. Your doctor will also consider other contributing factors when deciding on a treatment plan for you.

Headaches from pain medication overuse

Do not take any other medications without first consulting with your doctor. Some of these medications can cause additional symptoms such as confusion or drowsiness, which could worsen your condition if taken in conjunction with your current medications. Proper hydration and rest may help to alleviate headaches.

Sinus headaches

These are usually treated with decongestants, steroid nasal sprays, antibiotics, steam inhalation, and proper hydration.

How to Differentiate a Primary Headache from a Secondary Headache?

Headaches are a common symptom of many different conditions. Primary headaches are caused by the brain itself, while secondary headaches are caused by other parts of the body.

Primary headaches can occur due to a buildup of pressure around the brain due to injury to a cranial nerve or a blood vessel. A primary headache will typically occur suddenly and last for several hours. They may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, sensitivity to pain in other parts of your body, fever, and sweating. Some people also experience visual disturbances such as blurred vision or difficulty focusing on nearby objects when they have a primary headache.

Secondary headaches may be related to underlying medical conditions such as sinusitis or brain tumors, but they can also be caused by infections such as meningitis or bacterial meningitis (a serious condition that affects the membranes that surround the brain). These types of headaches often have no known cause but respond well to treatment with over-the-counter medication or prescription medication if necessary.

When to Visit the Doctor?

Headaches are among the most common health complaints, and they can be treated with a variety of simple home remedies. But yet, headaches can be caused by a number of conditions, including migraines, sinus infections, and aneurysms.

However, if your headache is persistent or severe and you’re experiencing other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, you should see a doctor.

In some cases, headaches can be signs of a more serious illness or injury that requires medical attention. If you have frequent headaches or if they last longer than two weeks, it’s worth talking to your doctor about them.

When you are having the following neurological symptoms with a headache, do not hesitate to visit the doctor:

  • Numbness or tingling- Stroke is the first diagnosis.
  • Stiffness-If you have meningitis, it may cause stiffness in your neck muscles.
  • slurring of speech
  • diplopia
  • Seizures

Headaches don’t always require immediate medical attention, but they should always be taken seriously when they do. It’s important to note that not all headaches are caused by serious conditions like migraines or brain tumors; some people just have more sensitive heads than others!

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TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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