Pain: Do you have frequent headaches? We explain what types of headaches exist, how to identify them, and the solutions so that you can live without discomfort.
How to Relieve a Headache
To alleviate and prevent headaches, the most important thing is to get the right treatment right, and for this, it is essential to identify the type of headache you are suffering from.
As it is not easy to do so, we have put together this simple guide to help you name your pain. We start with the location. Think about which area of your head you feel the most discomfort when pain strikes.
Table of Contents
1. Tension Headache: Pain in the Forehead or Behind the Head
Do you feel as if you are wearing a helmet that compresses your head? Or a very annoying pressure on the back of the skull, never and shoulder? Indeed what you have is a tension headache. This type of headache arises in times of tension and stress.
Those who suffer from it are usually perfectionists, demanding, and very responsible. With mild pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, you can ease the pain, but you will have to learn to relax to solve the problem.
2. Migraine: Suffering on One Side of the Head
What you feel is a rhythmic, throbbing, and very intense pain. You can notice it all over the head, although it is generally more concentrated on one side. Before the problem, you may feel vision disturbances (lights), irritability, and nausea.
This type of pain has many causes; most of them related to lifestyle (little or too much sleep, diet, changes in temperature, tension, stress). To alleviate it, the doctor usually sends anti-inflammatories, and in intense migraines, antiepileptics and antidepressants.
3. Cluster Headache: Pain Around the Eye
Your discomfort is concentrated on one side of the head and around one eye or in the same eyeball; it can cause tearing and swollen and red eyes. The crises are very intense but short, from 30 to 60 minutes. Cluster headaches are usually treated with vasoconstrictors, triptans, or inhalation of pure oxygen.
4. Trigeminal Neuralgia: the Most Intense Pain
You feel a sudden and extreme burning in your face, and it lasts from seconds to minutes. As if it were an electric shock that occurs in the trigeminal, a nerve with three branches that pass through the eye, the cheek, and the chin.
The pain can appear in one of the components or all. Trigeminal neuralgia is currently treated with antiepileptic drugs, antidepressants, or relaxants.
5. What to Take for a Headache: Pain Relievers
Ibuprofen. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and is useful in moderate and severe headaches. Do not take it on an empty stomach and avoid it if you suffer from a kidney function disorder.
Paracetamol. Indicated for cases of mild tension headache. It is less aggressive than others, such as ibuprofen, but it can affect the liver if you take it in excess.
Acetylsalicylic acid. It is calming and anti-inflammatory. Treats mild to moderate pain in tension headaches. You should not take it if you suffer from gastric ulcers or clotting disorders.
Home Remedies for Headaches
According to work issued in the journal Cephalalgia, feverfew infusion can help reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches due to its sedative action. If you want to try it, consult your doctor as it is not compatible with certain drugs.
Other infusions that can help you are parasite and white willow, which have a relaxing and anti-migraine effect.
The Schedules Are Critical
The migraine brain does not like changes. Therefore, it is essential to keep a fixed time to go to sleep and to get up. And sleep the right hours, between 7 and 8 hours a day. Little or too much sleep can guide to a crisis.
Many headaches occur on the weekend. It is also essential to follow along with a regular meal schedule because spending a long time without eating causes hypoglycemia (a low concentration of glucose in the blood) and, as a consequence, headache.
Does your head hurt? According to facts from the World Health Organization, WHO, you’re not alone; 47% of adults have suffered at least one episode of headache in the last year. And up to 1 in 20 suffers it every or almost every day.
And that is where there is a problem that can be treated. Because a one-time headache, as annoying as it may be, is not essential. You take a pain reliever, and you tend to forget about this disorder.
The problem is when it repeats itself and affects daily life, preventing us from carrying out our plans, be they family, vacation, work, or whatever they are. With this guide against headaches, we want to give you solutions so that you can forget about them and live without discomfort.
6. How to Relieve a Headache
To get the treatment right and eliminate the headache, it is essential to identify the suffering suffered. But it is not easy to name it. And there are more than two hundred types of headaches, many of them of unknown origin and various causes, some of them surprising.
Thus, it is common to confuse its symptoms and not know very well what type of pain is suffered and, therefore, how to deal with it. Of all the types of headaches, there are four that are the most common.
We explain how to recognize them, their possible causes, and, most importantly, what to do and what to take to alleviate them.
7. Tension Headache, the Most Common
How is it? The pain may feel like wearing a helmet that compresses the head from the top and sides; or as a lacerating pressure on the back of the skull, neck, and shoulder, mistaken for a cervical problem.
Causes. It arises from muscle contraction in the neck and scalp. It usually appears in times of tension and stress and is mainly due to the muscles’ pressure or stiffness in this area. Those who suffer from it are usually perfectionists, demanding, and very responsible.
How to treat this pain. It is advisable to take a hot bath or shower, with the water directed to the nape of the neck, drink a relaxing infusion, and stretch to disconnect. Pain relievers (paracetamol, ibuprofen) can relieve pain, but the problem is not solved.
In your case, what you need is to calm the tension and reduce stress. Techniques such as yoga or meditation can help you do this, but the important thing is to find what works for you.
The best practices are those that combine physical and mental relaxation. Maybe your perfect way to relax is dancing or going for a walk with music or swimming.
Home remedy. If the tension headache is due to physical or mental stress, the application of hot water (bath, shower, or compress) relaxes the contracted muscles.
In this sense, it is also convenient to massage the neck and shoulders area or press the highest point of each eyebrow. It also helps to do stretching and massage to relax the area.
8. Migraine or Migraine, the Most Disabling Pain
How is it? The pain is throbbing and intense, affecting the entire head or one side. It starts suddenly but first, you may feel irritability, nausea, or changes in vision. They are very variable crises in intensity, frequency, and duration.
They may be preceded by confusion, tingling, the sight of small lights, loss of strength in the arms or legs, or mood changes.
Causes. Sleeping too little or too much, fatigue, rest after a stressful period (the typical pain at the beginning of the weekend), eating, smoking, temperature changes, noise, and certain medications (contraceptives, antihypertensives) are the most common causes.
What to take To relieve migraine pain, the doctor usually prescribes, in addition to NSAIDs, analgesics, antiepileptics, and antidepressants. But to prevent it, it is necessary to make a change in habits and diet.
To do this, you have to identify the causes for which the migraine appears.
Other more controversial causes. Excess serotonin and histamine have been targeted in people with a low level of the enzyme diamine oxidase, but more research is needed.
Home remedy. Hot and cold water. Migraines are often triggered by arterial vasodilation. To narrow the blood vessels again, the ideal is cold water in the form of a compressor applying ice (wrapped in a plastic bag and a kitchen towel).
Simultaneously, hands and feet are immersed in hot water, causing excess blood to flow to the extremities and clearing the head.
9. Cluster Headache, Very Severe Pain
How is it? They are very intense but short crises (30 to 60 minutes). The ache is concentrated on one side of the head and around the eye. It can cause tearing, congestion, or red, puffy eyes.
Why happens. The triggers are usually the same as for migraines; in this case, when the crisis ends, there is no feeling of being ill.
How the doctor treats you. Pharmacologically with vasoconstrictors, triptans, or inhalation of pure oxygen. Triptans narrow blood vessels in the cerebrum and return them to their normal state, easing throbbing pain. They can also relieve other migraine symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
10. Trigeminal Neuralgia, the Lesser-Known Severe Pain
How is it? It is considered one of the most muscular pains that exist. It causes sudden, extreme burning in the face and lasts from seconds to minutes. It is like an electric shock that occurs in the trigeminal nerve, one of the head’s longest nerves.
The trigeminal has three branches that pass through the eye, the cheek, and the chin. The pain can appear in one of the components or all and usually on only one side of the face. At first, it can be confused with extreme dental pain.
Causes. The most common cause is that a blood vessel compresses the trigeminal. Pain episodes can be triggered by brushing teeth, eating, drinking, shaving.
How is it treated? With antiepileptics, antidepressants, or relaxants.
What to Take for a Headache
There is currently a comprehensive battery of medications to treat different headaches and guide preventive treatments that reduce the intensity and reduce the frequency of attacks.
Do not self-medicate or modify the prescribed doses without talking to your doctor.
General pain relievers. The most common is paracetamol and is indicated for cases of mild tension headache. It is less aggressive than others, such as ibuprofen, but it can affect the liver if you take it in excess.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Given their anti-inflammatory power, they are prescribed to treat migraine attacks. They work by blocking cyclooxygenase or cox, a substance involved in the processes of inflammation and pain.
Of course, you have to be alert since they can chronicle the problem if they are taken more than fifteen days a month. And not only that, it is estimated that up to one in fifty people have a headache caused by excessive intake of painkillers.
They are used to combat cluster headaches and moderate or severe migraine attacks. Common triptans are sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, Frovatriptan. They work by contracting the brain’s blood vessels and returning them to their normal state, soothing throbbing pain.
They can also relieve other migraine symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light.
Opiates are very effective in treating acute headaches how they act. They bind to receptors in the brain responsible for pain and, together with endorphins and enkephalins, opioid neurotransmitters produced by the body, eliminate pain.
Antidepressants They are used to treat and also prevent tension headaches and migraines how they act. They regulate the levels of chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine, which can be involved in headaches.
Beta-blockers are used to prevent migraines and cluster headache attacks on how they act. They reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Antiepileptic drugs. Created in principle to treat the seizures typical of epileptic seizures, they are also used –but in lower doses– to prevent the appearance of headaches and migraines how they act. They decrease the neuronal hyperexcitability of the migraine generating centres, preventing it from being triggered.
Botox injections. Botulinum toxin is used as a preventive treatment in patients with chronic migraines. Its subcutaneous or intramuscular application in different parts of the head reduces the attacks’ intensity and frequency.
Pain Diary: to Know What Type of Headache You Have
Create a diary of your pain and write down what you did before each crisis started, what you ate, what you feel before it appears. With all these details, it will be easier for the doctor to diagnose you.
And with the right diagnosis, you will find better relief. Here is an example of a very comprehensive headache diary.
Date: Time the pain starts: Duration of pain:
- Seconds or minutes.
- Between 30 min and 3 hours.
- Between 4 and 24 hours.
- More than 24 hours.
- Like a “helmet.”
- On top of the head.
- On one half of the face.
- Specify which one: In one eye and around the area of this eye.
Symptoms with which it is accompanied:
- Visual aura.
- Hypersensitivity (light).
- Others. Specify:
- Pain in the neck.
- Lack of sleep.
- Schedule change.
- Alcohol consumption
- I have eaten.
- Others. Specify:
- Acetylsalicylic acid.
- Others. Specify:
11. What if the Headache is a Symptom of Something More Serious?
Infection. A cold or flu can cause it, but if a stiff neck accompanies the headache, it could be meningitis, a brain infection.
Hypertension. If the pain appears when waking up and affects the head’s back, it may be due to high tension that compresses the cerebral vessels.
Hypoglycemia. When the glucose (sugar) in the blood falls below normal, pain appears as the brain feeds on glucose.
Thyroid. Hypothyroidism can be caused by poor circulation, while hyperthyroidism triggers are due to increased pressure.
Ictus. With an unusual intensity and that, a sudden headache seems to “burn” alert of the plugging or rupture of a cerebral artery.
Brain tumour. Be suspicious if you have never had pain, and suddenly attacks are frequent and worsen over time, often at night.
12. Home Remedies for Headaches
Self-massage. Gently massage the nape, eyes, temples, and base of the nose. To make it more useful and relaxing, you can use a few drops of lavender or peppermint oil.
Infusions. Take a tea made of the parasite, feverfew, or white willow. These herbs, with a relaxing and anti-migraine effect, help you reduce the intensity of pain.
Calm the attack. Lie in a room with low light and no noise. Put cold cloths on the affected area. Breath deeply. You may notice relief in 15-20 min.
And here, we inform you how to get rid of a headache fast.