Precipitating Factors For Each Common Headache Type

sw-factors-for-headaches

Almost everyone has had a headache. Headaches are the most common form of pain and a major reason people miss days at work, school or take a visit to the doctor. The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don’t get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Other common types of headaches include:

 Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches include gnawing pain over the nasal area and often increase in severity throughout the day. Pain is caused by acute infection, usually with fever, producing blockage of sinus ducts and preventing normal drainage. Fortunately, sinus headaches are rare…however, migraine and cluster headaches are often misdiagnosed as sinus in origin.

Precipitating Factors: Infection, nasal polyps, anatomical deformities, such as deviated septum that blocks the sinus ducts

Treatment: Treat with antibiotics, decongestants, surgical drainage, if necessary

Prevention: None

Arthritis Headaches

You can point out an arthritis headache by the pain at the back of head or neck which intensifies on movement. It is caused by inflammation of the blood vessels of the head or bony changes in the structures of the neck.

Precipitating Factors: Cause of pain is unknown

Treatment: Anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants

Prevention: None

Caffeine-Withdrawal Headaches

Skip your morning coffee? Caffeine withdrawal headaches include a throbbing headache caused by rebound dilation of the blood vessels, occurring multiple days after consumption of large quantities of caffeine.

Precipitating Factors: Caffeine

Treatment: Treat by terminating caffeine consumption in extreme cases.

Prevention: Avoiding excess use of caffeine.

Chronic Daily Headaches

This refers to a broad range of headache disorders occurring more than 15 days a month; two categories are determined by duration of the headache (less than four hours and more than four hours).

Precipitating Factors: Typically evolve from transformed migraine. Although not related to chronic tension-type headache, they can evolve from episodic tension-type headache. Can be associated with medication overuse.

Treatment: Depending on the type of CHD, different treatment options exist. It is important to limit analgesic use.

Prevention: Based on diagnosis of headache, how long they last, and the number experienced per month.

Depression and Headaches

Depression seems to be especially closely linked to certain kinds of chronic pain in the body, including migraine headaches, severe non-migraine headaches, and lower back pain.

Precipitating Factors: Causes can originate from a wide variety of complaints that can be categorized as physical, emotional, and psychic.

Treatment: The presence of depression is often subtle and the diagnosis is frequently missed. Depression is a wide spread affliction that can be treated, but first it must be unmasked.

Prevention: Physicians can prescribe tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or monoamine oxidize inhibitors in the treatment of headaches associated with depression.

 Exertional Headaches

Symptoms of exertional headaches include generalized head pain of short duration (minutes to an hour) during or following physical exertion (running, jumping, or sexual intercourse), or passive exertion (sneezing, coughing, moving one’s bowels, etc.)

Precipitating Factors: Ten percent caused by organic diseases (aneurysms, tumors, or blood vessel malformation). Ninety percent are related to migraine or cluster headaches.

Treatment: Cause must be accurately determined. Most commonly treated with aspiring, indomethacin, or propranolol. Extensive testing is necessary to determine the headache cause. Surgery is occasionally indicated to correct the organic disease.

Prevention: Alternative forms of exercise; avoid jarring exercises

Fever Headaches

Fever headaches include generalized head pain that develops with fever and is caused by the swelling of the blood vessels of the head.

Precipitating Factors: Caused by infection

Treatment: Aspirin; acetaminophen; NSAIDs; antibiotics

Prevention: None

Hangover Headaches

Migraine-like symptoms of throbbing pain and nausea, but it is not localized to one side. Hangovers can last up to 72 hours after drinking, but most are shorter in duration. Again it depends on how much was consumed, how dehydrated you became, nutritional status, ethnicity, gender, the state of your liver, medications, etc.

Precipitating Factors: Alcohol, which causes dilation and irritation of the blood vessels of the brain and surrounding tissue.

Treatment: Liquids (including broth); consumption of fructose (honey, tomato juice are a good source)

Prevention: Drink alcohol only in moderation

Hunger Headaches

Have you ever experienced pain that strikes just before mealtime? Chances are it’s a hunger headache, and it is caused by muscle tension, low blood sugar, and rebound dilation of the blood vessels, oversleeping, or missing a meal.

Precipitating Factors: Strenuous dieting or skipping meals

Treatment: Regular, nourishing meals containing adequate protein and complex carbohydrates

Prevention: Regular, nourishing meals containing adequate protein and complex carbohydrates

Hypertension Headaches

Generalized or “hair band” type pain that is most severe in the morning. It diminishes throughout the day. Very high blood pressure can trigger an event known as malignant hypertension. Malignant hypertension is also referred to as a hypertensive crisis. … In addition to a headache, malignant hypertension usually is also associated with blurred vision, chest pain, and nausea.

Precipitating Factors: Severe hypertension: over 200 systolic and 110 diastolic

Treatment: Treat with appropriate blood pressure medication

Prevention: Keep blood pressure under control

Menstrual Headaches

For some women, Migraine-type pain that occurs shortly before, during, or immediately after menstruation or at mid-cycle (at the time of ovulation). The cause or trigger is thought to be the fall of the level of estrogen. The blood level of this chemical (hormone) falls just before a period. It is not a low level of estrogen that is thought to be the trigger.

Precipitating Factors: Variances in estrogen levels

Treatment: Taking a magnesium supplement might make your headaches shorter and your periods easier. But talk to your doctor before you start using it. It’s also a good idea to limit how much salt you eat before your period starts so your body doesn’t hang on to water in your tissues, which could create extra pressure.

Prevention: Biofeedback; beta blockers (propranolol, timolol); anti-convulsant (divalproex sodium); calcium blockers; and NSAIDs

For many people, finding out what triggers a headache or migraine can help them avoid or lessen the effects of their headache symptoms. Fortunately, we can help. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Headache Foundation).

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