Almost everybody has experienced a headache at some point in their lives, and most of us have experienced it many times. A mild headache is merely an annoyance that can be alleviated by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, eating or drinking something hot, or taking a brief nap. However, if your headache is serious or irregular, you may be concerned about a stroke, tumour, or blood clot.
Fortunately, such issues are uncommon, but there are occurrences, so you need to know what to do if faced with this scenario. However, first of all, we need to understand the different types of headaches.
What is a Headache?
A headache can occur in any part of the head, and pain can occur in one or more places. Different forms of pain can be caused by headaches, and classifying the pain can help a doctor make a diagnosis. Doctors also classify headaches depending on whether the pain is caused by an underlying health condition. In other words, according to the International Headache Society, a headache may be primary or secondary.
- Primary Headache
A primary headache is not a sign of a more severe disease. Instead, these headaches are caused by issues with the head and neck structures.
- Secondary Headache
There are signs and symptoms of underlying medical problems. A secondary headache may be caused by:
- Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland.
- Arteritis of Giant Cells
- A tumour in the brain
Few Common Types of Headache
Cluster headaches are usually short-lived and cause discomfort behind the eyes. The pain is typically on one side and can be defined as throbbing or continuous. Cluster headaches usually strike one to two hours after a person goes to bed. They may have some symptoms that are similar to migraines, but they rarely cause nausea.
Migraines are a form of headache. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by symptoms such as:
- A pulsating sensation in the brain
- Pain on one side of the head a throbbing, intense pain
- Sound and light sensitivity
- Migraine headaches often cause excruciating pain that makes it difficult to focus or carry out everyday tasks.
What to Do to Manage a Headache?
In case of mild to moderate headache,
- Drink plenty of water
- If you have a cold or the flu, get plenty of rest.
- Try to relax – tension will aggravate headaches.
- Take ibuprofen or paracetamol
You should consult a doctor urgently if you have a:
- Headache with fever
- Headache with vomiting
- Headache with visual symptoms or dizziness
- Headache with neck pain or stiffness
- Headache with any limb weakness
- Headache with sudden severe onset
- Headache that is new if you are aged over 50 years
- Headache with persistent and worsening intensity
- Headache in everyone in your household (likely Carbon monoxide gas poisoning)
- Headache with a recent history of head trauma
- Headache if you are pregnant
- Headache with the change of posture (standing, lying, bending)
When you consult with a doctor virtually, it is always best to have a home diagnostic kit with you so you can discuss the results with your doctor. A diagnostic kit can include a small blood pressure machine, pulse oximeter, and thermometer. You can buy these in an online store like Amazon. Smartwatches like the Apple watch or Fitbit are good as they can measure oxygen saturation, pulse rate, and even heart rhythm (ECG). Stay safe and be health conscious.