Headaches are fairly simple to explain: a pain in your head. Everyone has had one, which is why it is the most commonly-reported type of pain. The cause of your headache, though, might not be entirely clear. Taking a minute to assess the reasons for it could help prevent problems in the future.
Headaches Are Common But Complicated
Typical headaches tend to be caused by tight muscles near the head: the scalp, beck, jaw and shoulders. This is why this most common headache is referred to as a tension headache. These can often be the result of a lack of self-care, including losing sleep, working too much, drinking alcohol or skipping meals. Like any common pain, sometimes a common solution like taking care of yourself is best.
The other most well-known variety of headache is known as the migraine. These may be accompanied by more symptoms than simple pain, and may be exacerbated by sound and light:
- Zigzag light patterns across the field of vision
- Flashing lights
- Temporary loss of vision
Whereas basic self-care may help ease your typical headache, the cause of migraines is a bit more complicated. While sometimes caused by the same problems as normal headaches, there are additional genetic components to consider. There are specialist treatments and medicines, as well as some alternative therapies that may be recommended to treat severe migraines.
When Should You See A Doctor About Your Headache?
Typically, if a headache comes on suddenly or is severe, it is worth checking with a doctor. Additionally, if the headache is a result of a head injury or blow to the head, you should immediately seek medical attention. If the headache is accompanied by any of the following, also seek immediate medical attention:
- Black eye
- Stiff neck
- Loss of consciousness
- Pain in the ear
How To Treat A Headache
For many people, whichever over-the-counter, appropriately-dosed painkiller is your go-to may be the solution. It may also be as simple as rehydrating, should you be dehydrated from exercise, forgetfulness or illness. For migraine sufferers, it might do you best to seek out a specialist.
When suffering the pain of a headache, should medicines and rehydrating not prove the answer, you can seek out alternative methods of reducing or eliminating your head pain. It is always recommended to discuss these options with your primary care physician first, as they are all experimental. Some of these methods include:
- Acupuncture: The use of tiny, expertly-placed needles in specific places on the body has been known to assist in headache pain reduction, though the reasons for this are inconclusive
- Biofeedback machines have shown positive results for migraines and tension headaches, but again results are inconclusive
- Dietary supplements may be used to try and treat both typical headaches and migraines, again on advice of your doctor
Since headaches are so common and can be taken for granted, it is safest to keep an eye out for a change in the type of headache you have or the circumstances that may have led to the headache.