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Why You Need to Know: Understanding the Type of Headache You Have

By Sara Butler

Types of Headaches

Headaches. We all get them. Some may be caused by dealing with your Aunt Gertrude, others can be caused by more sinister things -- but everyone is bound to experience a headache at some point in their lives.

Did you know that there isn’t simply one type of headache? It’s true! There are several distinct varieties of headaches a person can experience, and they range from merely annoying to a sign of a serious health issue. The chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic want to arm you with the information you need to live a healthy, happy, headache-free life. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of headaches a person can experience and what you can do about them.

Headaches: The Most Common Types

You may think that a headache is simply a headache. But it’s important to remember that your body is a master of communication and when you experience discomfort, then it’s trying to tell you something.

The type of pain you experience with a headache tells you what kind of headache you’re experiencing; understanding the type can help you to manage them better or perhaps even avoid them completely.

The three most common types of headaches include:

  • Tension headaches - A tension headache can last for hours and occur multiple days per month. They typically involve a dull pain that feels as if you’re wearing a very tight headband. Normally, the pain is felt all over the head. Stress, dehydration, and poor sleep are all some of the more common causes of tension headaches.
  • Cluster headaches - Cluster headaches can be incredibly painful. They are called cluster headaches because they tend to occur in a cluster or pattern for weeks or even months. You can get multiple headaches each day during these attacks that can last from minutes to hours. These headaches come on quickly and are typically felt around or behind an eye. You can have a stuffy nose on that side of your head as well. Cluster headaches have no known cause, but it is known that men get them more often and the use of tobacco and alcohol can make them worse.
  • Migraine headaches - The big daddy of the headache world, migraines can take down a sufferer. These painful and long-lasting headaches can occur a few times per year or several times per month and can last up to three days. The pain experienced with a migraine is pulsating or throbbing, typically on just one side of the head. They can cause sensitivity to sound or light as well as nausea and vomiting. Researchers think that migraines are genetic, but they also can be triggered by certain foods in some people.

More Headaches

Now that we’ve touched on the big three, there are more headaches to understand! These headaches may not occur as often as the headaches mentioned above, but they are important to understand in case you fall victim to one.

Some other types of headaches people experience include:

  • Sinus headaches - Pain in the front of the head, the bridge of the nose, and in the cheekbones are all the hallmarks of a sinus headache. They can be caused by sinus infections or by allergies.
  • Hormone headaches - It’s not uncommon for a woman to experience a headache that feels like a migraine during certain times of the month. These can be caused by hormone changes.
  • Exertional headaches - Short, throbbing headaches can be caused by vigorous physical activity. They usually go away quickly but can last up to one day.
  • Caffeine headaches - If you must have your cup of coffee to get going each day and you skip it, then a headache that resembles a migraine can occur. Of course, these types of headaches can be caused by too little caffeine or too much.
  • Medical overuse headaches - These are also called rebound headaches, and they feel a lot like a tension headache. They are caused by taking over-the-counter pain medications for more than half the month.

What Can You Do About Headaches?

Identifying the type of headache you’re experiencing is important, but so is taking steps to find relief. If you have chronic, painful headaches, then it’s past time for you to discuss it with the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic. They can help you to identify the cause if you’ve not done so already and recommend a treatment plan to target and improve your headaches.

At home, you can try over-the-counter medications to help such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also take some time to lay down in a dark, quiet room with a cold compress on your neck or head. If you have headaches induced by stress, you can work to reduce stress in your life through deep breathing exercises and mindfulness.

Headaches are, unfortunately, here to stay. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit there and take it. Partner with the chiropractors at The Joint to help you manage your headaches so that you can lead a healthier, happier life -- even if you can’t get rid of your Aunt Gertrude.

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