The etiology of headache is – when there is any irritation or traction to meninges and blood vessels, headache happens. An incorrect diagnosis about the heachache type may lead to wrong medication or therapy thereby resulting more pain than relief. Hence it becomes important to identify the type of headache one is experiencing according to the symptoms and place of the originating pain. Though this disorder is pretty common, not all of us are aware about the type of headache we are dealing with. Based on the etiology, the headaches are classified into two main types or <b>Primary and Secondary</b> headaches
The most common type of headache is the ‘tension-type’ muscular headache that is a low pressure squeezing sensation of the forehead and temples. By definition, it can only be of moderate intensity or less. As soon as it become severe, we can’t call is a tension headache anymore and that’s almost always going to be a ‘migraine’. The location of these headaches is bi-lateral, usually around the forehead area.
Migraine headaches are the most commonly treated headache type by physicians and medical professionals across the globe. The characteristic of this headache is the gradual onset, moderate to severe intensity for the pain. Among other common symptoms (see list below) light sensitivity and nausea are often the main indicators of diagnosing migraines and differentiating it from a tension headache. Activity, bright light or loud noises can make the headache worse, so someone having a migraine often seeks out a cool, dark, quiet place.
Cluster Headache is a group of idiopathic headaches that is associated with the trigeminal nerve (face sensations). The location of the headache is always unilateral and around the eye (one sided). The pain is deep and excruciating and sometimes explosive. . One may be unable to dilate the pupils, nasal discharges etc. when such a headache persists. Duration is quick between 30min to 3 hrs. The bouts of this headache also called as cluster, and can last for months. This is followed by a period of remission where the headache usually stops occurring
Apart from these, ‘hormonal and sinus headaches’ are also prevalent.
These occur due to certain underlying conditions. Warnings signs are: illness such as cancer, age>40, previous headache history, infections to brain like encephalitis, abscess, sinus infection. The headache that arises due to these factors can be considered as abnormal. Examples include: intracranial hemorrhage, neurological disorders, thunderclap onset, temporal arteritis etc.
Signs & Symptoms
Not every headache hurts the same way. Here’s listing a few signs and symptoms that are exhibited
Sinus headaches can have symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, tiredness, pain and pressure in the cheeks and forehead with increasing pressure as one may try to lie down or lean forward.
Tension headaches can be chronic or episodic. Chronic can last from 30 min to a few days and feel like they are always there. Episodic ones begin gradually, often in the middle of the day and most occur no more than 1x-2x times in a month. Typical symptoms experienced here would be tenderness in the scalp neck and shoulders, pressure in the forehead, neck and back.
Migraines generally progresses through 4 distinct stages but not everyone may experience all 4.
- Prodome (1-2 days before migraine)
Symptoms exhibited are: Food cravings, mood swings, increased thirst, frequent yawning, constipation
- Aura (Before or during a migraine- feeling of something is about to happen) About 15 to 20% of people who experience migraines have aura.
Symptoms exhibited are: visual bright spots or light flashes, photophobia, body jerks and vision loss may also occur
- Headache (Attack)
Symptoms exhibited are: Severe head pain in the temple areas lasting anywhere between 4-72 hrs. , Lightheadedness, 80% probability of nausea and blurred vision
- Post-drome (upto a day after migraine)
Symptoms exhibited are: Confusion, moodiness and dizziness.