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What Your Headache Is Trying To Tell You



What Your Headache Is Trying To Tell You

Headaches. They’re crafty things, aren’t they? They can creep up on us unannounced and then linger all day as a constant reminder that they’re still there, or more specifically, that the cause is still there. 

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Sometimes, we simply don’t know why our head is pounding and we can’t concentrate. 

There are many types of headaches, and many reasons why we might develop one or experience them frequently. So here’s a look at some of the most common headaches and what your headache might be trying to tell you.

  • Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and can usually be treated by taking over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. They affect both sides of the head and can cause a feeling of pressure behind the eyes and tight muscles in the neck. They can be caused by everyday factors such as stress, dehydration, not wearing the right glasses, sitting with poor posture, hunger, noise and certain smells. Sitting still for long periods of time can also cause tension headaches. 
  • Cluster headaches are rare but can affect anyone. They cause severe pain, usually around the eye on one side of the head and occur very suddenly. Cluster headaches are often described as causing a sharp, piercing pain and can also cause watering or drooping in the affected eye. They can follow a pattern, often occurring several times a day for a period of time before disappearing. They may then come back after a few months or weeks. Cluster headaches can be triggered by certain strong smells but the exact cause is unknown. Over the counter painkillers don’t tend to help as these headaches come and go so suddenly. If you struggle with cluster headaches, speak to your GP who can provide self-administered injections or nasal sprays that can help. 
  • Migraines are a type of severe headache causing intense, sometimes pulsing pain in the head, often for days at a time. They can be accompanied by a sensitivity to light and sound as well as nausea and vomiting. Some people also experience auras, where they see flashing lights, stars or zigzags in front of their eyes. Your GP can help if you’re experiencing migraines, so speak to them as soon as possible. 
  • Allergy headaches are caused by an allergy to something such as pollen in the air. They affect the front of the head and behind the eyes where the sinuses are. The sinuses tend to swell up during an allergic reaction, causing a pressure type headache and they can be helped by taking antihistamine medications. 
  • Hormone related headaches usually coincide with our periods, but can also be triggered by the contraceptive pill and the perimenopause or menopause. They’re usually felt in the whole head and can be relieved with over the counter painkillers.
  • Caffeine withdrawal headaches – yes, these are a thing! This is because caffeine is a stimulant and if you go without, your brain is literally going through a withdrawal. For this reason, try not to get into a more than four cups a day habit. 

If you’re having regular headaches or headaches that are worrying you, then make an appointment to speak to your GP who can help you discover the cause or offer treatments that can help. An excruciating, sudden headache accompanied by difficulty seeing, speaking, swallowing or balancing, requires immediate medical help.

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