Headaches are one of the most common pain conditions in the world. Most headaches fall into two main groups—primary and secondary. Primary headaches are those that do not result from another medical condition. This group includes tension-type, migraines, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are those that develop as a result of another condition. This group includes sinus headaches and headaches caused by things such as an infection, a head injury, overuse of certain medications, or a neurological problem.
Common Headache Types
Tension-type headaches are the most common form of headache. Because they are not generally severe, they can usually be treated successfully with an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil Liqui-Gels®).
Cluster headaches are the most severe type of primary headache, causing intense pain. The pain is generally centred in or around the eye region. Cluster headaches can occur up to eight times a day during a cluster period, which may last from two weeks to three months.
Migraines are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine pain can range from moderate to severe and is frequently described as pounding. The pain of a migraine is often accompanied by symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or sensitivity to light, noise, or odours. For more information on migraines, see “Understanding Migraines.” Or “Causes and Treatments of Migraines”
Sinus headaches are secondary headaches that cause deep, constant pain in the area round the sinuses—cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose.
Treating and Preventing Headaches
If you are suffering from a headache, a typical course of treatment can often be rest and taking a pain medication. For tension-type headaches and mild to moderate migraines, an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil Liqui-Gels®) can help relieve the pain.
Here are some other tips for treating and preventing headaches:
Identify triggers: Keep a headache diary and record what you eat and drink, if you skip any meals, when and how much you sleep, the amount and type of exercise you get, weather patterns, how much stress you are under, and your surroundings. Comparing the times when you get a headache with what you have recorded in your diary can help you pinpoint your personal headache triggers.
Stress management: Things that help you relax can help you relax and reduce your stress may also help relieve headaches. Some techniques that may help include counselling, focusing on relaxing your muscles, and listening to soothing music.
If your headache pain is severe, persistent, recurs, or worsens, you should see a doctor.
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