All you need to know to understand headaches and when to see a doctor?


Whether mild or severe, recurring headaches can hamper your ability to work and be productive.

As a career driven person, this can pose a great challenge since you may have to resolve to consistently take painkillers.

But understanding headaches can help you address them better. This article discusses some things to know about headaches.

When to See a Doctor?

See a doctor immediately when your headache comes alongside: Rashes, A temperature of over 38°C, A stiff neck, Slurred speech, Intensely throbbing pain that feels like your head is pounding, Blurred vision or loss of it, Vomiting.

Types of Headaches:


Primary headaches.

A primary headache stands alone, i.e., it doesn’t come as a symptom of another underlying condition.

Tension headaches and migraines are some of the most common types of primary headaches.

Primary headaches can be episodic or chronic:

Episodic headaches occur very often but no more than 15 days a month. They can last for a few minutes or several hours. OTC painkillers are enough.

Chronic headaches occur consistently almost throughout the month. You’d require a pain management plan in such cases.

Secondary headaches.

Secondary headaches are those that come as a symptom of an underlying condition.

The most common secondary headaches include:

Allergy or sinus headaches. These come as allergic reactions and are typically felt in the sinus area and front of the head.

Pregnancy headaches. These occur during pregnancy.

Hormone headaches. Hormonal changes in women can lead to headaches, especially during periods, while on birth control, etc.

Caffeine headaches. Caffeine affects blood flow in the brain, leading to headaches.

Hypertension headaches. When blood pressure becomes incredibly high, it leads to headaches and becomes an emergency.

Post traumatic headaches. These are headaches that occur after a head injury and may last 6 to 12 months after the injury.

Common Causes of Headache:

The most common causes of headache include:

Hunger, Dehydration, Lack of sleep, Stress, Caffeine, Sensitivity to light, sound, or other environmental stressors, Diet.

If you work intensely for days on end, especially a mentally draining task, you may develop headaches due to mental fatigue.

It’s therefore important to take a break and get self care once in a while.

There is a link between food and headaches.

For example, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame may slightly increase your level of headaches. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep track of what you eat.

When headache may be associated with an emergency situation?

Sometimes, headaches can be a precursor or indicator of something more tragic.

For example, thunderclap headaches can result from a blood vessel rupture, stroke, brain injury, vasculitis, or other vascular problem.

Thunderclap headaches often come suddenly, reaching maximum intensity in less than one minute and lasting for five or more minutes.

It’s strongly recommended you go for a medical examination immediately you experience such. However, some thunderclap headaches are benign.

Differentiating between headaches and migraines:

Headaches can be mild or severe, primary or secondary.

On the other hand, migraines are primary headaches that cause extreme pain.

Their effects are generally more debilitating than headaches.

Visual disturbances such as visions of flashing lights, blind spots, and stars may precede migraines.

People with PTSD are at risk of migraines.

Some triggers of migraines include: Skipped meals, Dehydration, Sleep disruption, Certain foods, Hormone fluctuations, Exposure to chemicals.

Speak with your doctor on managing migraines because they can disrupt your quality of life.

What you should remember?

If you discover the frequency or intensity of your headaches makes life a mess, do not hesitate to see a doctor.

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