Headache pain is so common that it seems to be a natural, though unpleasant, part of daily life. It’s the most typical reason for doctors appointments, yet there’s nothing typical about a headache. Read the information below to learn more or click here to schedule your appointment with our physicians.
The source of pain can vary from headache to headache. Attacks by bacteria, viruses, biochemicals and hormones can all unbalance the body and trigger headache pain.
What’s more, there are certain people who have a genetic disposition to headache pain. A natural low level of serotonin, a neurochemical that shields us from headache pain, may make these people venerable. A change in the weather or certain foods may create conditions for a headache in these people.
Headache Pain Isn’t All The Same
While all headache pain is unpleasant, it surprisingly comes in several varieties. Differentiating between different types of headache pain is important when deciding upon the proper treatment.
Migraine Headache Pain
This type of headache pain throbs on one side of the head and can be severe and debilitating. Migraines are a kind of vascular headache which may be rooted in abnormalities in the brain’s blood flow system.
Stress and particular foods often trigger migraine headache pain. While these triggers may cause other types of headaches as well, it’s important to note that only migraine headaches affect the entire body. Reactions to migraine headache pain can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and movement.
Tension Headache Pain
Tension-type headache pain can be triggered by stress, hunger or fatigue. Their symptoms fit those of the stereotypical headache–pressure and aching.
Cluster Headache Pain
Sudden and severe, cluster headaches have a short duration, but can attack up to six times a day. They have not only been known to attack repeatedly during the course of several weeks but in some cases can last for years at a time.
Sinus Headache Pain
Swelling, irritation and possibly an infection of the sinuses is the trigger for this type of headache pain. It can be easily confused with migraine and tension headache pain.
Secondary Headache Pain
Because it may be the symptom of a potentially life-threatening condition, secondary headache pain demands immediate medical attention. A serious underlying disorder may exist when your headaches seem unlike any you’ve experienced before, are progressively worse, are triggered by physical exertion or drain your energy. See a doctor if you experience any of these warning signs.
Rebound Headache Pain
Triggered by abuse of headache medication, rebound headache pain is an example of the cure becoming worse than the problem. Reaching a point of diminishing pain relief returns with prescription drugs is a common phenomenon which will be discuss later in this article.
Headache Pain Relief and Pain Management Medications
Pharmaceutical treatments for headache pain range from over-the-counter medicines like aspirin to prescription drugs. As mentioned earlier, the problem with frequent treatment of headache pain with drugs is that they lose their effectiveness. Worse, they actually create more headache pain.
Excessive use of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen create what is called analgesic rebound effect in which the body creates more headache pain so it can receive a larger dose of drugs. In other words, an painkiller addiction has been created. Drug use can also alter serotonin levels in the brain which are linked to migraine attacks.
More sophisticated prescription headache pain remedies carry with them additional harmful side effects like heart disease, digestive disorders, ulcers and liver damage.
In some cases, steroids may be prescribed for headache pain. These may be administered by injection as a nerve block. Though they may, at best, provide temporary relief, they carry with them life threatening side effects and shouldn’t be used for prolonged periods of time.
Headache Pain Surgery
Surgery is generally thought to be the last resort for headache pain management. (Some blockage procedures involve microwave heat to inactivate a nerve.) What’s more, surgical treatments for headache pain have a less than 50% success rate and rarely provide long term relief.