Headaches are a common condition which can occur for a wide variety of reasons. There are two broad categories of headaches:
Primary headaches – including tension, migraine or cluster headaches
Secondary headaches – headaches which are triggered by an existing condition (e.g. an injury, illness or tumour)
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They feel like a tightness, or pressure around the head and are usually caused by stress. These headaches are best treated by making adjustments to your lifestyle. (link to lifestyle bullets below)
Migraines are more common in women than in men as it is believed that hormones play a significant role in their occurrence. Migraines feel like a severe throbbing pain and are often accompanied by other symptoms, including:
- Nausea / vomiting
- Visual symptoms (e.g. blurred vision)
- Pins and needles (in face or arms / hands).
Migraines can be triggered by a variety of things such as foods, hormonal imbalance, stress or fatigue. Migraines are commonly treated with medications and/or lifestyle modifications (particularly identifying and avoiding the ‘triggers’).
Cluster headaches are not very common and are more likely to affect men than women. They involve severe pain around the eye and are best treated through medication or oxygen therapy.
Secondary headaches can occur as a result of a variety of different disorders / conditions. Some examples include:
- Neck problems
- Sinus conditions
- Dental or jaw problems
- Eye conditions
- Head injury
- Brain tumour
- Vascular conditions
Headache treatments vary according to what is causing them. If your headaches are recurring, it is important that you see your health practitioner for assessment so that they can help you to identify what treatment is best for you. You health practitioner may prescribe medication and / or lifestyle adjustments.
Lifestyle changes to treat headaches may include:
- Managing and / or reducing stress
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Regular physical activity
- Good posture
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