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Headache

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH
JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

We get it all the time: at home, at the workplace, among friends, around children and even parents. Sometimes, headache is used to describe a difficult situation but most at times, it refers to a pain in the head. There are several types of headaches in medicine. It may simply be caused by an overwhelming situation which is temporary; Headache can also be a symptom of a disease which is just serving as a warning to you to visit the hospital. Headache happens for a unique reason and if you are able to identify the cause, then you can immediately treat it. There are more than 100 types of headache but we will talk about the most common and important in this article.

Classification of headache

Headache is classified into two main groups:

1. Primary headache - this is the most common type of headache. Most people will experience at least one of these types in their lifetime.

2. Secondary headache - this is a serious form of headache and it is the worst. No one would love to be classified under this category.

Types of primary headaches

1. Migraine

Migraine is a type of headache that mostly occurs on just one part of the head. It is one-sided, most people would relate to this quickly. It begins as mild and the pain increases gradually. Migraines can last between 4-72 hours.

To be certain that a person is experiencing a migraine, that individual will usually have the pain on one side of the head as mentioned earlier together with other symptoms such as sensitivity to light (the person suddenly cannot stand light), sensitivity to noise (the individual is unable to withstand too much noise which he wouldn’t have responded to normally), sensitivity to smell, vomiting or nausea, loss of appetite and an upset stomach. These symptoms differ in individuals (some may experience all whilst others will not).

Children who experience migraine usually look pale, become dizzy, get fever and an upset stomach. Women experience migraine headaches more than men.

Treatment

Over the counter drugs such as ibrufen may work against migraines as prescribed by a physician. You can go the natural way by sleeping in a quiet place and drinking a lot of water.

2. Tension headache

tension headache

This type of headache usually occurs around the forehead. It starts at the back of the head and spread forward. It is usually called the stress headache. It feels like someone is maybe squeezing your forehead, it feels so tightened. They are the most common type of headache in adults and teenagers. They usually do not come with any other symptoms and go on its own.

Treatment

People who have this type of headache just go in for over-the-counter drugs(paracetamol) to feel better if they can’t wait for the headache to go on its own. If you use such drugs and the pain is still throbbing, then you have to realize that you do not have a tension headache. You can drink enough water, get a nap or do an activity that can relax you.

3. Cluster headache

This is the most severe type of primary headache. It occurs around the eye (eye orbit) and a nerve in the face that connects to the brain is involved.

cluster headache

This type also occurs around one side of the head (around one side of the eye). The pain begins quickly and last between 15minutes -3 hours. This is called a cluster headache because, it happens twice or thrice in a day (clustered in your day) for at least 2 weeks to 3 months with some pain free weeks in between. As the pain is becoming severe around one eye; the eye becomes red and droopy, you may even tear up and get a runny nose on the side which is around the eye.

This type of headache can wake you up from sleep and is undoubtedly the worst. If you get this type of headache, you are unable to remain calm. Also, it happens in men than in women.

Treatment

It is important to visit the hospital. In fact, it will be difficult to stay at home with this type of headache. The doctor will prescribe some drugs to stop it. Sometimes, behaviours such as smoking and alcohol will trigger such headaches, thus individuals must learn to stay away from them. You can practise breathing exercises. If all these does not work, the doctor might perform a surgery because it involves a brain nerve.

4. Sinus headache

This happens when you have sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus) or irritation of the sinus. A sinus is a cavity (hole or air-filled space) within a bone or tissue, especially the bones of the face that connects with the nasal cavities (cavity in your nose). A person who has this type of headache will experience deep and continuous pain in the cheekbones, forehead and the bridge of the nose. Other symptoms that will follow the pain include fever, runny nose (the fluid from the nose is unclear- yellow or green unlike the secretions from the other types that are clear).

Treatment

For sinus headache, your doctor will prescribe medications that will alleviate your symptoms. If the headache is because of an infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to curb the infection together with antihistamines or decongestants to free your sinus and sometimes add a pain-reliever.  You can drink more fluids if you are far from the clinic or hospital or use a humidifier. The pain will slowly go down.

5. Hormonal headache

This occurs in females as a result in the change or shift in their hormone levels. If this happens 2 days before or 3 days after the menstrual cycle begins, then it is termed as menstrual migraine. Birth control pills (contraceptives) can also trigger this type of headache.

Treatment

Over the counter drugs may be taken. Also, drinking a lot of fluids, putting an ice pack on your forehead, taking a nap and massaging the area where you feel the pain will reduce the pain.

Secondary headaches

These are the result of an underlying condition. Diseases that may present with headaches include; acute sinusitis, brain tumour, ear infection, meningitis, stroke, Covid-19, etc

Some types of secondary headaches include:

· Spinal headaches

· External compression headaches

· Medication overuse headaches

· Brain freeze headaches

References

  1. WebMD. Headache basics. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/migraines-headaches-basics
  2. Mayo clinic. Headache. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.