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Headache is a common problem that most people face. They cause you headaches and make you uncomfortable. Some of its types are very concerning; they can be easily managed with pain management strategies. And, sometimes, you can use over-the-counter medications to relieve them. Headaches are of many types but are categorized into primary and secondary.
In this article, we will discuss primary and secondary headaches. Also, we have to decide each of them from the category. Also, you will explore the symptoms and causes of these headaches and their treatments.
This information will clarify what to do if you have the following headaches. Whether you should use an over-the-counter drug to get relief or ask a doctor for help, read on for more information.
Headaches are generally classified into two main categories.
While their symptoms can be equally painful, the difference between these headaches is due to their causes.
These kinds of headaches take origin in themselves, and another underlying cause does not cause them. Almost 90% of headache cases are primary headaches. These primary headaches begin due to the head's blood vessels, nerves, neck, and facial muscles. Triggers likely to induce primary headaches include stress, diet, alcohol changes in sleep habits, etc.
Another underlying condition can lead to secondary headaches in the body. It means it's a symptom of something else that may require medical attention. The cause of this kind of headache may range from the overuse of medication or caffeine to a withdrawal symptom of something more serious. Also, an infection, blood clot, or brain tumor may lead to headaches.
Primary headaches occur on their own, meaning that they are not a result of another underlying health condition. These kinds of headaches may be a one-time occurrence or can be chronic. It means it may appear either once or often over a long period. Here, we have defined the most common types of Primary headaches-
It is one of the most common types of headaches that people usually experience. As a rough estimate, 80 to 90% of the population suffer from tension headaches at least some time in their lives.
Migraine is the second most prevalent type of primary headache. According to estimated data, more than 10% of people are affected by Migraines. It often occurs in people aged 20 to 50 years and is about 3 times more common in women than men.
It is a rare and more painful type of headache if compared to tension headaches or migraines. Just one in every 1,000 adults in the United States suffers cluster headaches. These headaches are short-lived and may last for some minutes to hours. But you may have multiple episodes of cluster headaches in a day, and their periods can last for weeks or months. After that, there is usually a break with no headaches for months or years.
You may have most attacks at the same time of the day. These attacks may appear at night for a while after you fall asleep. And it may occur around the same time of year.
An exertional or exercise headache happens when you do physical activities. These activities can put pressure on your chest or tense your abdominal muscles. It may result in heavy exertion like running or from something as insignificant as coughing.
It is a super-rare sleep-related primary headache that may occur in people over 50. It is also known as an alarm clock headache because it only happens during sleep and can wake you up. In the year 2010, doctors reported only 200 cases of hypic headaches.
The primary symptom of a headache is pain in any part of your head. It may appear as a sharp pain, a tight or squeezing feeling, a constant throbbing feeling, or a dull ache. You can differentiate between types of primary headaches by the following symptoms they include-
Many conditions can contribute to tension headaches. These triggers include-
We don't know the exact cause of migraines, but changes in the brain and chemical imbalances in the brain are likely to contribute to migraines. The common triggers can be stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, and menstruation, but the cause of it can vary from person to person. Most people who deal with migraines learn to reconcile their symptoms and triggers. And also get to know that they can bring relief to their migraine.
The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown. However, its patterns suggest abnormalities in the body's biological clock can contribute to its onset. Cluster headaches are quite different from migraines and tension headaches. They don't usually have triggers like hormones, stress, or diet. But, once a cluster period begins, drinking alcohol can trigger more intense pain in people.
Such headaches can happen when you strain during bowel movements, exercise, lift heavy things, cough, sneeze, or have sex. The cause is usually unknown but linked to increased brain pressure.
The cause of hypnic headache is unclear; however, factors that may contribute include-
Over-the-counter medications are often used to get relief from tension headaches. Drinking liquids may help in treating headaches if they are induced by dehydration. Getting relief, you may get enough sleep, balanced nutrition, massages, or other things that help reduce stress.
Many medications are specifically designed to treat migraines. Some require a doctor's prescription, and some are available over the counter.
Migraine medications are of two types: ones that relieve the pain of migraines and others that help prevent migraines from occurring. Pain relievers, either OTC or prescription, may help stop the symptoms during a migraine attack. Preventive medications are usually prescribed when the frequency of migraines is high. Your doctor may advise you to take them daily to help reduce the frequency and severity of the migraine attacks.
Although cluster headaches have no cure, some medications and treatments can effectively stop and prevent their episodes. You must consult a doctor to deal with these severe and debilitating headaches. Discuss a suitable treatment plan.
You can prevent exertional headaches by having a short warm-up before exertion. Also, you may avoid the specific exercises or movements that may trigger the pain. These kinds of headaches primarily respond to OTC or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs.
Hypnic headaches are painful but benign, and lithium carbonate-like medication may help treat these headaches. But it has many side effects, and the other treatments include dosing caffeine and indomethacin during bedtime. Talking to a doctor to find the best treatment would be best.
These are the most common types of secondary headaches-
These kinds of headaches begin within seven days of a head injury. If the pain appears severe, the trauma is serious, or you lose consciousness, you need medical help immediately. You must visit a doctor even if the symptoms are mild. These types of symptoms can last for a few months.
Overuse of certain pain medications can develop chronic headaches. The condition may appear if you mainly take them more than 2-3 days per week.
Sinus headaches are common, but if they last longer than a week, they might have a sinus infection or sinusitis. The pain during a sinus headache occurs due to pressure or congestion in your sinus cavities.
Sinus headaches have symptoms like pressure, congestion, and facial pain. These symptoms can also appear with migraines or cluster headaches. It's a fact that many people get sinus headaches with migraines. You are more likely to have a sinus cavity, and your sinus pain worsens when you lean forward. Or it may get worse when you have bad breath or runny nose-like symptoms.
The symptoms associated with post-traumatic headaches include-
Headaches from pain medication overuse
The overuse of pain medications causing headaches can induce symptoms such as
Chronic headaches, appearing daily, usually felt upon waking
Symptoms can vary but may include nausea, difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, and memory loss.
You may have improvement with pain relief drugs, but pain comes back when you stop medication use.
You may feel pain or sinus headache in your cheeks and forehead. Congestion in your sinuses can cause a stuffy or runny nose.
As you have read above, primary headaches occur in isolation. However, secondary headaches are signs of an underlying condition. Many conditions may lead to secondary headaches, such as
If you have these conditions, then you are likely to face these types of secondary headaches-
Post-traumatic headache: As included above, these headaches can appear after a traumatic head or brain injury. Although its cause is not confirmed, studies show that these headaches may appear due to the release of certain chemicals, brain swelling, or brain shrinkage due to accidents.
Sinus headaches: These headaches appear due to pressure built up in the sinus cavities due to congestion.
To relieve the pain of any primary headaches, drink fluids, rest, or take OTC medications like Tylenol or Advil. If these treatments do not work for you and headaches occur more than once a week, you must speak to a doctor. Or, If you have your first headache, especially if you're under five or over 50, or if your chronic headaches change, it would be best to see a doctor.
Here are some conditions in which you must immediately seek medical attention:
Also, see a doctor soon if you are feeling confused or have neurological symptoms such as
Most Headaches are common. Identifying high-risk symptoms is essential to determine whether it's a primary or a secondary headache.
You must see a doctor to determine if your headache is just a common one or something serious. Learn to recognize the accompanying symptoms and take steps to manage them.