Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints in the world being experienced by most people during their lifetime. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that almost half of all adults worldwide will experience a headache in any given year. Headaches can occur for different reasons, ranging from non-medical factors like stress and emotional distress, to medical factors like high blood pressure, anxiety and some infections. Depending on the severity, it can disrupt normal daily activities.
Types of headaches:
1. Tension headaches: These are the most common headaches and usually present as a band-like tightness around the head. It usually begins gradually in the middle of the day lasting for a few hours to days.
2. Migraines: They present as a one-sided throbbing, pulsatile pain, which may be accompanied by blurred vision, light-headedness and/or nausea. Pain can last for a few hours to days, and can have serious impact on the life of an individual. According to the WHO, migraine is the sixth highest cause of days lost due to disability worldwide.
3. Cluster headaches: Present as a sudden, intense pain, which is one-sided and typically within or around one eye, the affected eye may be red and swollen with associated runny nose. Pain usually lasts for a few minutes to hours.
4. Rebound headaches: They are also known as medication overuse headaches and result from long-term use of pain medications to treat headaches especially when they contain caffeine. They usually improve with pain medications, but worsen when the effect of the medication wears off.
5. Thunderclap headaches: These headaches are sudden, severe headaches usually described as the worst headache of my life, and often signify life threatening conditions such as intracranial bleeding or cerebral venous thrombosis. Urgent medical care is mostly needed.
In conclusion, usually bed rest and some over-the-counter painkillers can offer some relieve. However, prescription preventative medications following medical evaluation is occasionally needed. It is important to see your doctor if regular painkillers offer no relieve as overuse of these medications can result in rebound headaches. Rebound headaches usually need dose adjustment of pain medications and regular follow-ups. Also if your headaches occur with other symptoms like fever, nausea and vomiting, malaise etc, please see your doctor.