7 types of headaches, treatment
Headache is a worldwide problem that affects people regardless of geographic area, nationality, income level and age.
The condition of people who endure this painful, depriving of the opportunity to live their usual life, work, study, is extremely difficult. It occurs against the background of primary headaches: migraines, cluster pains and tension headaches.
Only 10% of the population is unfamiliar with this painful condition, 90% have had to endure the symptoms of headaches. Such disappointing data belong to WHO statistics. Also, her research showed that 20% of patients suffer from persistent pain. There are three times more women living with this grave problem than men.
The WHO estimates that the prevalence of headache is 50%. From 50% to 75% of the entire population of the planet from 18 to 65 years old experienced recurrent headaches, and more than 30% of them sought help with suspected migraines. Studies also show that up to 4% of adults experience headaches for 15 or more days a month.
Headaches are a global problem that scientists in different countries are working on.
Often, headaches are a kind of signal from the body about the presence of serious diseases. Therefore, experts strongly recommend that if a pathological condition occurs frequently, consult a doctor.
- Primary types of headache
- Secondary headaches
- Medicines for headaches
Primary types of headache
There are several types of headaches. According to the international classification, there are fourteen varieties. But that's not all - each type is subdivided into forms. All types of headaches are of a primary and secondary nature. The first case combines pains that appear on their own, the second is the result of an existing disease.
It is the most common type and occurs in 90% of people. Patients begin to feel a bursting, tension, or constriction of the top of the head in the head area. Often people compare the condition with the one as if they were wearing a helmet. This factor is called the "neurasthenic helmet" among specialists - neuroses are the cause of such pain. The mild form is characterized by the appearance of episodic pain, but when a person has to experience seizures more than fifteen times a month, then all the signs of the chronic course of the disease are visible.
Typical signs. Basically, these pains are mild or moderate during the day, but in the evening the intensity of the sensations increases. The manifestation period can range from 30 minutes to several days. In addition, a person experiences rapid fatigue, his sleep / wake rhythm is disturbed, sometimes there is a feeling of a lump in his throat.
What contributes to the occurrence? The back muscles, cervical, eye, and facial muscles are overstrained. The problem is exacerbated by stressful situations (unstable situation in the family, at work, illness of loved ones, etc.), exhausting work without proper rest, poor sleep, cold or heat, indiscriminate use of analgesics or psychostimulants, plus malnutrition or starvation. Another reason for the appearance of headaches can be hormonal disorders.
How is this type of headache treated? In this situation, the appearance of malaise is a natural reaction of the body to endless stress. Relief will come immediately if a person begins to lead a healthy lifestyle: he regulates physical activity, spends more time in the fresh air, undergoes a massage course, and independently performs special exercises for the shoulders and neck. It is necessary to learn how to neutralize stress: swimming or another sport, traveling, spending evenings with friends, getting carried away with an interesting activity - it is not necessary for everyone at once, you need to choose the most acceptable activity.
In the presence of severe pain, the use of pain medications will be required, in some cases the participation of antidepressants will be required.
For more than three thousand years, doctors have known this disease, the reasons to this day have not been uniquely determined.
The main signs. Intense pain can last for hours or days. It exhausts a person and, which is typical, practically does not lend itself to drug treatment. A very sharp pain manifests itself in one half of the head (from the Greek - "hemicrania"), concentrated in the temple, eye or forehead. A person becomes irritable, exhausted, cannot stand bright light, reacts sharply to loud sounds, and is disgusted with various smells. The patient develops dizziness, nausea, coordination is impaired.
A few hours, or even days before the onset of the painful phase, performance and mood deteriorate, and warning symptoms appear: drowsiness, yawning, nausea, pallor and indifference.
Causes of occurrence. The biochemical mechanisms of the onset of seizures are still poorly understood. Presumably, the appearance of this disease is preceded by a violation of vascular tone. A number of factors can be the source of this condition:
- Postponed stress.
- Excessive physical activity.
- Sudden changes in temperature.
- The use of unsuitable medications.
- Disruption of sleep rhythms (lack of sleep and excess have the same negative effect).
- Alcohol abuse.
- Food can provoke attacks: chocolate, nuts, cheese, citrus fruits and others. It should be noted that fasting and frequent snacks are also unacceptable for migraines.
Fluctuations in hormone levels: menopause, pregnancy, PMS, taking contraceptives, ovulation.
Quite an impressive list, but each person is predisposed to individual factors, which are determined by the method of tests. However, not everything is simple here either: a certain provoking factor is not always the reason for the development of an attack!
Read more: Migraine headaches - causes, symptoms, types and diagnosis
Migraine treatment methods. Treatment for this type of headache is aimed at stopping the attack at the very beginning. For this, the doctor selects the appropriate drugs. Since migraine is difficult to treat, it is very difficult to overcome the pain during the period when the attack has already developed. All efforts are directed to alleviate the condition, can help: taking a warm bath, a darkened room, eliminating loud sounds, special teas with medicinal herbs, acupressure.
The treatment statistics are not encouraging: only 10% of patients manage to stop the attack. At the time of a migraine attack, triptans (Zomig, Sumatriptan, etc.) are effective. If after taking the desired effect is not achieved, then you can additionally take anti-inflammatory nonsteroidal drugs (Diclofenac, Ibuprofen).
Read more: How to choose the right drug for migraine?
It is very difficult to eliminate the painful symptoms of migraine, but nothing can be done either. A person who is aware of his illness can prevent an attack by working on the organization of sleep, by adjusting the diet, and minimizing the consequences of stressful situations. It is very important to find a way that is acceptable for your body!
This type of headache is rare, more often observed in men under the age of forty.
Signs suggestive of a cluster headache. Pulsating acute pain begins its manifestation in the eye area, then spreads to the temples or to the forehead. The attacks are very painful, but short-term, they appear in the form of clusters (series). It is possible that reddening of the eyes may be observed, a runny nose, lacrimation appear. The headache can even occur at night or in the morning. Such attacks last from 15 minutes to an hour, repeating up to 8 times a day. This condition can be once a week or once a month. Pains appear without warning and suddenly disappear, sometimes the interval between attacks can be several years.
On the subject: How to deal with nausea during a migraine attack?
Causes of occurrence. Experts call pathologies in the vascular system the causes of cluster headaches. The episodic appearance and sudden disappearance of pain complicates treatment.
How is cluster headache treated? To reduce acute symptoms, oxygen inhalation is recommended; in 70% of patients, the attack resolves within a short period of time. It is not recommended to take analgesics, their effects will come later than the pain series has passed. It is possible to take fast-acting drugs: Ergotamine, Lidocaine, Somatostatin, but only under the supervision of a doctor. Improper use will not produce the desired effect. Therefore, the treatment of cluster pain and the prescription of drugs is the lot of the attending physician.
Headaches that appear in a person due to the presence of any pathology belong to this group. To eliminate them, it is necessary to treat the underlying disease. The most common are four main types:
This type of headache is the result of toxins released by pathogenic microorganisms. For example, pain with flu or respiratory illness does not proceed too intensely, it is felt in the area of the eyes, temples, forehead.
A person may feel relief after taking anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications. The throbbing, acute pain with meningitis is growing in nature, from a certain point it becomes unbearable. It is possible to treat such a severe form after determining the type of infection that is the cause of the disease. Prescribing drugs to eliminate headaches should only be a doctor.
Head sinus pain
This type of headache is typical in the presence of diseases of the nasal sinuses, it can occur, most often, with sinusitis or frontal sinusitis. The pain appears in the upper front of the head, under the eyes, and intensifies during head tilts and other sudden movements.
The inflammatory process of bacterial, viral or allergic origin is the cause of the pain.
To get rid of the disease, it is necessary to eliminate the provoking diseases. For this, vasoconstrictor drops are used to reduce swelling of the mucous membrane, sinus evacuation of sinus accumulations is performed.
When diagnosing bacterial sinusitis, antibiotics are prescribed, in the presence of allergies - antihistamines. A doctor can establish a diagnosis, choose the necessary therapy, self-treatment will not be beneficial.
This type of pain is of a very different nature: dull or sharp, bursting or pulsating, in addition, symptoms can be both permanent and periodic.
There are many reasons for the appearance of such pains, but the following are especially common: diseases of the cervical spine, including osteochondrosis, neuralgia of the occipital nerve, muscle tension arising from aggressive physical exertion. Also, the cause of occipital headache can be hypertension, arterial spasm, increased intracranial pressure. An uncomfortable posture, malocclusion, etc. can affect the cause of the appearance of unpleasant sensations. The method of pain localization depends on what is the cause. So cervical osteochondrosis is a source of pain in the temporal part of the head, neuralgia provokes paroxysmal symptoms, spondylosis leads to almost constant pain.
In order to alleviate the patient's condition, experts conduct an examination, the results of which make it possible to establish the cause of the headache. When diagnosed - neuralgia, spinal disease, stress, it is recommended to undergo a course of therapeutic massage and special physical education, physiotherapy. The pain caused by the bite is treated by an orthodontist. Regardless of the reasons, the patient's condition can be alleviated with warm herbal tea, applying a warming compress to the back of the head, and access to fresh air.
Head pain of vascular origin
This type of headache is pulsating in nature, which occurs in the temples or the back of the head. Its appearance is the result of a spasm of the cerebral vessels and a violation of the blood supply, as well as an expansion of the venous network with insufficient blood outflow.
Vascular headache is a consequence of hypertension or hypotension, thrombosis or temporal arteritis. Different diseases predetermine the category of headache of vascular origin. It has been established that increased cranial pressure provokes compressive morning pain, which increases with movement. Arthritis causes a throbbing sharp pain in the temples, radiating to the neck, shoulders, and worse when chewing.
Therapy depends on the illness causing the headache.
The patient's complaints of headache are the reason for the examination in several stages. The doctor interrogates the patient, finds out the nature of pain sensations, their duration and localization, determines the provoking and accompanying factors. Sometimes it is enough primary diagnosis, which is determined after examination by specialists: a neurologist, otolaryngologist, dentist, ophthalmologist. But in most cases, it is necessary to undergo a complete medical examination:
EEG - electroencephalography - according to its results, one can see the state and work of the brain as a whole, deviations from normal functioning are determined, vascular lesions of the brain, tumors, hematomas are detected.
X - rays are done to determine trauma, hydrocephalus, sinusitis.
MRI - magnetic resonance imaging is recommended for the detection of chronic and acute disorders of cerebral circulation, tumors, the consequences of stroke, sinusitis and a number of other diseases.
CT - computed tomography - gives a "picture" of the presence of hemorrhages, changes in the structure of the brain tissue, cerebral vessels. CT is used to detect tumors, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, cysts, aneurysms.
EMG - electromyography - is used to establish diseases of the neuromuscular system, to identify damaged nerves.
Ultrasound - ultrasound diagnostics of the head is prescribed to confirm the diagnosis of atherosclerosis, in the presence of problems with blood vessels, pathology of blood flow, aneurysm.
Laboratory research methods are the necessary measures to detect inflammation and infections in a patient, autoimmune processes and when determining cholesterol levels.
Medicines for headaches
Paracetamol (acetaminophen). The tool belongs to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs. You should not look for something new if it relieves headaches. (on the topic: simple pain relievers)
NSAIDs - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Ibuprofen (Mig, Nurofen, Faspik), Diclofenac (Voltaren), Acetylsalicylic acid.
Combined analgesics. There are a lot of them based on different combinations of NSAIDs, antispasmodics, paracetamol and caffeine to increase the analgesic level. These are citramone, pentalgin, solpadein, novigan. They work more effectively than pure drugs, but are less safe.
Triptans. Appointed exclusively with a confirmed diagnosis - migraine: Sumatriptan (imigran, amigrenin, trimigren), eletriptan (relaxax), zolmitriptan (zomig), eletrptan (relaxax).
Read more: Special anti-migraine analgesics
We must not forget that any drug has many side effects. Taking them uncontrolled can lead to a number of complications. Even the usual analgin, in large quantities, leads to blood disease. Analgin, for this reason, is banned in many countries around the world.
How often can pain relievers be taken?
Experts do not recommend taking pain medications for more than 15 days a month (or three days a week). This applies to those that consist of one active substance.
It is not recommended to take combined analgesics containing several active substances for more than 10 days a month (or two days a week).
What are the risks of more frequent use?
There is a threat of the development of a special headache - the so-called abusal headache. In this case, the anesthetic drug provokes a headache. It is very difficult to treat such pain.
When a person takes drugs for a long time (months, years) and often, this can affect the work of various organs, namely: liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract (sometimes leading to fatal bleeding). The uncontrolled use of the most traditional pain relievers can cause more harm than the benefit!
Why can't chronic headache be treated with conventional pain relievers?
This should not be done due to the possible acquisition of an abusal headache! It is possible to treat it, but it is difficult, so it is necessary to stop taking painkillers in time.
How to proceed?
- See a neurologist and eliminate secondary headaches.
- Determine the type of chronic pain (tension headache, migraine).
- The specialist will be able to make the right choice of drugs for the treatment of chronic pain - you must strictly follow his instructions.
- Don't ignore psychotherapy!
Headache is an objective sign of various kinds of diseases. Having learned to understand it, it is not difficult to understand in time why an attack occurs. This, in turn, will help to heal a rather dangerous ailment in time.
Author of the article: Sokov Andrey Vladimirovich | Neurologist
Education: In 2005 completed an internship at the IM Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and received a diploma in Neurology. In 2009, completed postgraduate studies in the specialty "Nervous diseases".