Headaches are one of the most common complaints. Yet despite this, the precise mechanism and cause of certain types of headache remains unclear.
The three main types of headache are
Tension headaches – are characterised by constant pressure or tightness that affects both sides of the head accompanied by contraction of the neck muscles. They are the most common type of headache. The exact cause is unclear, but tension headaches have been linked to things such as stress, poor posture, skipping meals and dehydration.
Migraines – are typically characterised by a throbbing or pulsating pain. In addition you feel worse for physical activity and there often additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, sound and/or smells.
Cluster Headaches – are characterised by being very severe but generally lasting less than one hour. One characteristic of cluster headaches is that the pain is often centred on the eye, which may water. They are called cluster headaches because they can occur up to eight times in one day, for a few weeks or up to two months. Their cause is unknown but there is subjective evidence to suggest the triggers may include alcohol, strong smelling substances or extreme rise in temperatures.
Identifying which type of headache you have can be very difficult as tension headaches and migraines share many of the same traits.
Treating and preventing headaches depends on the individual and type of headache. It is often advisable to keep a diary in order to identify which type of headache(s), they experience and if there are specific triggers that can be avoided.