Did you know that there are different types of headaches? From tension headaches to migraines, there are all sorts of different headaches, and you've likely been affected by one or more. Headaches can take you down for the whole day, making you lose hours of valuable time. They also make you miserable, killing your focus and leaving you in an awful funk. As a migraine sufferer, I've always been interested in the physiology of headaches, since there's no known reason they even exist. I might not have that question answered, but I can help you identify different types of headaches and how to treat them.
Naturally enough, I think migraines are one of the worst types of headaches. They're just so all-encompassing, and they really do knock you out for the whole day – or several, sometimes. The National Headache Foundation estimates that nearly 30 million people in America alone get migraines. They come complete with nausea and vomiting (which, ick, sometimes actually makes them better, but is just awful while it's happening), trouble with vision, and serious sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds. There are many natural remedies that can help, such as yoga, slow breathing, magnesium or B12 supplements, and meditation. Some people go for over the counter relief from brands such as Excedrin, some people get such heinous migraines that they need prescriptions, and some people are turning to Botox, which is said to relieve the pain. I think I'll be skipping that one, though.
Tension headaches are common, perhaps the most common, because everyone gets stressed. If you have a tension headache, you'll know it by the steady feeling of pressure at your temples, the nape of your neck, or the back of your head. If you're stressed, tense, or anxious, you're at risk. They also occur when you have bad posture or spend a lot of time grinding your teeth or clenching. Getting a massage can help, or even acupuncture. Taking time to relax is most important. You might even just lie back with a cool cloth over your eyes. Again, many people also turn to remedies such as Excedrin or Ibuprofen. If you're going OTC, look for a medicine that caters to tension headaches.
If you read a lot or spend a lot of time in front of your computer, you know the utter dread of a headache caused by eyestrain. It doesn't just happen when you're working, however; you'll get them while watching TV or browsing a magazine. These types of headaches occur not just from straining your eyes but from remaining in one position for too long, or sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Throughout the day, make sure you take your eyes off the screen for at least 10-15 minutes at a time, and get moving. Go for a walk, even around the office, and don't watch the TV. You may end up needing glasses and you should get checked for any issues with your eyes. Otherwise, take your breaks and try to get a monitor with good anti-glare properties.
Cluster headaches are short but painful. Well, at least they are short, right? You'll feel them on one side of your head or the other, and they just kill. You may feel a throbbing behind your eye or temple, and your eye may water. Over the counter remedies don't usually help much, so sufferers typically turn to oxygen or triptans. The cool cloth remedy may work and, believe it or not, safely applying a blue menthol muscle rub or peppermint oil to your forehead and temples can really do a great job. Just watch your eyes!
Hormone headaches are pretty much the domain of women. Don't we get all the luck? These headaches occur right on track with your period. You can get them during PMS as well. This is because of the way our estrogen levels plummet right before we start our period. A massage can help a great deal, and magnesium supplements are incredibly beneficial as well. Try to relax as much as possible and although you might hate it, stay away from chocolate and caffeine in the midst of a headache. Many women have a lot of luck with OTC medications – not necessarily the typical headache remedies, either. Go straight for the Midol and Pamprin, ladies.
Sinus headaches occur, of course, because of blocked sinuses. The horrible thing is that they can actually feel as bad as migraines, so much so that people who have migraines but don't know it mistakenly believe they have sinus headaches. If you have issues with pollen or dander, deal with extreme temperature changes, have a dry home, or simply have allergies, you've probably gotten a sinus headache. The best way to handle them is to treat the actual problem instead: your blocked sinuses. Do so with an antihistamine or a humidifier in the home. You shouldn't need prescription meds unless you get an infection, and OTC headache remedies aren't always going to help.
Funnily enough, rebound headaches occur when you've been taking too much headache medication! Your body may be revolting a little, causing you to get Medication Overuse Headaches, or MOHs. Pay attention to your headache cycles; if they seem to get worse after the medication sets in (or wears off), stop taking it. I know that's a painful prospect, but it's the first step in breaking this vicious cycle. Treating this type of headache is tricky beyond that point because it depends on the individual patient, so talk to your doctor.
I dread getting headaches, even if it's just a sinus headache. Migraines are the worst, however, and as soon as my body signals one of mine (I get tingling fingertips), I know to run for cover. Do you frequently suffer from headaches? What remedies and methods work best for you?