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Are you suffering from a constant head ache? This could be the cause

By Faeza
05 August 2016

People who never suffer from headaches can count themselves extremely lucky. For the rest of us it pays to learn everything we can about the different varieties of headaches and what to do about them.

WHAT CAUSES HEADACHES?

Doctors have identified as many as 150 distinct categories of headaches, ranging from blood clots in the brain to hangovers and headaches caused when the roof of your mouth reacts to very cold substances. Scientists are not sure exactly what triggers them, but they appear to be the result of interacting chemical pain signals between the brain and various nerves, blood vessels and muscles in and around the head and neck.

Headsches can occur suddenly due to an illness or infection, after too much physical activity, or because of factors in your environment, like eating certain foods, changes in the weather, stress, and breathing in second-hand cigarette smoke or strong odours from chemicals or household detergents. You can even get a headache from taking too many headache pills!Most headaches aren’t caused by serious medical problems, but in rare instances they can be associated with life-threatening conditions such as brain infections and stroke.

You should seek immediate emergency medical assistance if you’re experiencing a very severe, sudden headache (especially after a fall or head injury) or one that doesn’t go away but gets worse over time, particularly if it is accompanied by weakness, numbness or paralysis of one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, seeing or walking, high fever, fainting, vomiting, nausea, double vision or a stiff neck.

HOW TO TREAT THEM

See your doctor if you get headaches quite frequently. Depending on the symptoms and severity, they may recommend a variety of possible treatment options, including medicines, counselling and stress management therapy. In extreme cases you may be referred to an expert on headaches. Most rare or infrequent headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medication, including Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Alternatives may include meditation and massages.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF HEADACHES:

SINUS HEADACHES

This kind of headache normally involves constant, deep pain in the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose and the forehead, which is caused when the sinuses – hollow cavities in the skull that are connected to the nose – become inflamed, normally due to an infection. In most cases, the pain gets worse with sudden movements of the head, and is associated with other sinus-related symptoms such as clogged ears, a runny nose, feeling feverish, and a swelling of the face.

TENSION HEADACHES

These are the most common headaches among both adults and children – some people get one almost every day, which is why they are sometimes called chronic daily headaches. The constant mild to moderate ache or pressure on both sides of the head, especially the temples as well as the back of the head and neck, isn’t sharp or throbbing, but dull and it can come and go over a considerable period. Some experts believe that tension headaches are the result of changes in brain chemicals and contractions of the muscles in the neck and scalp, often in response to physical or mental strain. Changes in sleeping patterns can also cause these headaches.

HORMONE HEADACHES

The changes in a woman’s hormone levels which occur during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can lead to recurring headaches, as can taking birth control pills. You may feel nauseous and suffer from a sharp, throbbing pain on one side of your head. Bright light, sharp noises and even the touch of another person may make matters worse. Ask your partner to give you a soothing neck and shoulder massage, or try a cold neck or head compress. If you get these kinds of headaches often, speak to your doctor about medication to reduce the symptoms.

CLUSTER HEADACHES

Although not particularly common, these are excruciatingly painful and typically involve sudden, throbbing or constant, piercing or burning aches, normally located around or behind one of the eyes. In many cases the effects are so bad that the sufferer is completely debilitated and can’t sit still or lie down for the duration of the attack. As the name suggests, cluster headaches occur in groups. You may experience between one and three daily episodes, each lasting 15 to 45 minutes or more, over a stretch of several weeks or months. These periods may be followed by months without headaches.

? MIGRAINES

Migraines involve moderate to very strong pounding, piercing and throbbing pain, most commonly on just one side of the head (although both sides can be affected at the same time). The pain can be so severe that it prevents you from doing just about any normal activities. Some people experience socalled auras before the actual pain sets in, during which they may see flashes of light, lines or spots. Symptoms include loss of appetite, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, dizziness, fever and being extra sensitive to light, smells and noises.

COMMON SUFFERERS

If both parents have a history of migraines, their children have a 70 percent chance of developing the same problem. With only one parent, the probability decreases to between 25 and 50 percent. The causes of migraines are only poorly understood, and for most sufferers there is no easy fix. Resting in a quiet dark room with hot or cold compresses to the neck or head can reduce the soreness, as may a light massage and a small amount of caffeine. Your doctor may suggest treatment options, including over-the-counter and prescription medication.

USEFUL CONTACTS

The Headache Clinic 45 Empire Road, Parktown, JHB Tel: 0861 678 911