Millions of people suffer from headaches every day. To treat these pains, pharmacies and stores everywhere have aisles and shelves filled top to bottom with over-the-counter medications for all sorts of headaches, and behind the counter, there are even more prescription options. Choosing the right treatment for your headaches can be a daunting task.
What Makes a Headache?
A headache is defined by pain anywhere in the head or neck region of the body. Depending on the type of headache, this pain could be sharp or dull, mild or severe. A headache can last mere minutes, or last for days. There are many types of headaches, and all of those types fit into a specific classification as a primary or secondary headache.
Primary versus Secondary Headaches
A primary headache is one that is likely benign and is not attributed to any other underlying condition. Tension headaches and migraines are common primary headaches.
Secondary headaches are actually symptoms of a bigger underlying issue. Not all secondary headaches are life threatening, however. Sinus headaches, for example, are symptoms of common problems such as sinus infections.
Some headaches might be symptoms of very serious conditions, such as brain infections, tumors, or bleeding, which is why it’s so important to note when you are having headaches.
What Kind of Headache Is It?
Understanding your own headaches is the key to appropriate and effective treatment. Knowing what kind of headache you have can help you with treatment and possibly even prevent future headaches.
To figure out what kind of headache you are dealing with, you will need to first list all of your symptoms, and take note of any details such as how long the headache has lasted or whether or not it is a recurring issue. Take this list of information to your physician and discuss your options with them.
What Are Your Symptoms?
Paying attention to what symptoms you have will be the key to unlocking the mysteries of your headaches. Do not discount anything when listing these symptoms; any bit of information might help.
Some common symptoms describe the type of the pain (sharp, dull, radiating) and where it is localized. Some symptoms may include sensitivity to light or sound, nausea, vomiting, pressure, congestion and so forth. Write down a description of your headaches to get it right.
Something else to keep track of is whether or not your headaches recur, as well as whether there are any changes in the behavior of the recurrence. Keeping track of this information might help you figure out what is causing your headaches. For example, you might learn that extreme heat, a particular food, or a certain smell is an environmental trigger for your headaches.
Have You Seen a Doctor Yet?
When in doubt, get checked out. It is a good idea to see a physician, especially if you have recurrent headaches or if you suspect any sort of underlying condition. If you have any neurological symptoms at all, seek medical attention immediately. If the severity of your headache worsens, seek attention immediately too.
Treatment versus Prevention
In some cases, preventative medicine is the best kind. If you identify the triggers or the cause of your headaches, you might be able to stop them. For severe migraines or recurrent headaches, there are some preventative medications you might talk to your doctor about as well.
For people who prefer not to take medication, you and your doctor might discuss alternative options. Some people, for example, swear that drinking green tea and trying to live a stress-free life is the key to living headache free.
Ultimately, there are as many treatment options as there are types of headaches. The treatment that works for you might take some trial and error. Discuss your options with a physician to figure out what might work best for you.