Oh, no. You can sense a headache coming on. Your heart beats faster and boom…you recoil as the pain in your head grows unbearable. It may even cause you to feel dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, and confused.
The reason for my headaches stemmed from a concussion and whiplash injury; however, there are numerous other reasons a person experiences headaches. Whatever the reason, it’s critical to isolate the source of the pain so that you can treat it appropriately.
First thing’s first. You have to identify what type of headache you’re having. This can be tricky. There are five types of headaches.
- Migraine Headaches
- Sinus Headaches
- Cluster Headaches
- Tension Headaches
- Mixed Tension Migraine
You’ve heard people say it so many times that it’s easy to wonder, how many Americans have actually experienced a true migraine?
The Migraine Research Foundation has an answer – and it’s not pretty.
“Migraine is an extraordinarily prevalent disease, affecting 39 million men, women and children in the U.S. and 1 billion worldwide.”
One sign your headache might be classified as a migraine is if you experience auras before an episode.
If you’ve been suffering from a common cold that lingers and you have a fever, you might be experiencing sinus headaches. When the sinus cavity becomes inflammed, usually by an infection, that can cause immense head pain.
This type of headache feels like a burning or piercing pain that throbs behind or around the eyes. More women than men tend to be affected by this headache. Usually they appear suddenly and can be quite intense.
Tension headaches can be dull or severe and are usually characterized by an aching sensation or pressure felt around the head. When you’re evaluating which type if of headache you may have ask yourself this: is the pain centered primarily around my temples? Don’t forget to also check if you feel pain in the back of the head and neck as well. Is there pressure around your head? If the answer is yes then you probably have tension headaches.
Rx: Over-the-counter treatments like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (a.k.a. Tylenol) are usually enough to bring tension headache pain down. But not always.
If your headaches persist in spite of treatments, try pairing your OTC med with hot compresses on the neck muscles if they’re sore or stiff. This loosens tight cervical muscles allowing for more range of motion and less head pain. You may not even realize that you are holding a lot of stress in your muscles.
Physical therapy can help in severe cases in which an injury is causing the pain. Massage is another therapy measure that’s catching fire lately. And for good reason.
In an interview with WebMD, Mary Beth Braun, President of the AMTA, explained:
Even if you don’t have the finances or insurance coverage for a massage or physical therapy, you can reap some of the same benefits with self-massage which can be soothing and release tension built up in the head and neck muscles.
Always consult your doctor beforehand, especially if you are taking certain medications that may conflict with OTC medicines.