Nearly everyone has experienced a headache at one time or another. As many as 45 million Americans suffer from chronic severe headaches and headaches are the reason for more than 8 million doctor visits each year. Those are pretty incredible statistics but when head pain strikes, how many people actually know what kind of headache they are having?
The key to properly treating head pain is to accurately identify the type of headache that a patient is experiencing. In one study, 80% of people who had a history of self-described or doctor-diagnosed sinus headaches had no sign of a sinus infection and actually fit the criteria for a migraine. So how do you determine the type of headache you are having? There are five basic types of headaches that we will examine here, along with some tips on how to identify them.
- Tension headaches: Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are usually marked by a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially at the temples or back of the head and neck. Some experts believe that they may be caused by the contraction of scalp and neck muscles due to stress.
- Cluster headaches: This type of headache is one-sided, typically concentrated around the eye and temple and can cause things like a watery eye or nasal congestion on the affected side. Cluster headaches tend to last somewhere between 30 minutes and two hours and as the name suggests, they come in clusters, once or more a day, sometimes lasting weeks or even months.
- Sinus headaches: Sinus headaches result from a build up of pressure within the sinuses. Sinuses are pockets within the bones of the skull and function to help humidify and filter the air we breathe. There are several sinuses and they are named for where they are in the skull. Inflammation in the sinuses due to irritation or infection can cause a buildup of fluid, increasing pressure within the sinuses and causing symptoms typical of a sinus headache.
- Rebound headaches: Possibly the most frustrating of all the headache types, rebound headaches are caused by the exact medications that are used to treat headaches. When we take medication for head pain such as ibuprofen or aspirin, it turns off the pain receptors in the brain. For a person prone to headaches, taking pain medication on a regular basis makes pain receptors more sensitive, leading to a new headache as soon as the medication has worn off.
- Migraine headaches: Arguably, the worst headache of them all, the migraine is a neurological condition caused by abnormal brain activity. These headaches can sometimes be preceded by vision changes called an aura that are painless. The migraine itself includes severe symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and a disruption in the ability to do normal tasks. In some people the headache is felt only on one side of the head.
While not every headache has a known reason for occurring, there are some triggers that you may not be aware of. Unexpected headache triggers can include things like your weight, returning from a long weekend, paint fumes, dehydration, skipping meals, too much caffeine, a sedentary lifestyle and even certain personality traits can bring on headaches.
While there are several treatment options for headaches, they vary as widely as the headache type itself and traditionally rely on drugs, side effects and even painful shots. And, as in the case of the rebound headache, some of these treatments actually bring on a new headache, causing a vicious cycle of pain. But there are effective treatments out there that are non-invasive and made to correct the problem that is causing the headache.
Chiropractic neurology is an ideal solution for patients suffering from any of these headache types. Chiropractic neurologists use safe and proven techniques that produce relief from head pain without drugs and without side effects. Some of the ways that Chiropractic neurology can treat headaches include reducing stress and tension through adjustments, relaxing muscle contractions, aiding in the draining of sinus and correcting neurological imbalances therefore reducing pain.
If you are experiencing any of the types of headaches that we discussed here and would like information on how to relieve your head pain completely drug-free, please contact Dr Marc Ellis today at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center. And remember, there are safe and effective solutions to restoring your body to its optimal state of well being.