Getting your head around those nagging pains

Symptoms will usually come on in bouts, lasting for two to three hours, and then subside.


Getting your head around those nagging pains


I tend to suffer a lot of headaches, especially when I come home from work in the evenings. What causes these headaches and what can I do to prevent them?

Eamon


Most adults suffer headaches from time to time. The best way to solve an occasional headache is by taking plenty of rest, eating well and taking on fluids. If you need medication, start with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

You might also try reducing your caffeine intake over time and it is also worth having your vision checked.

There are four common types of headaches;

Tension headaches
These tight, gripping aches are the most common kind of headache – they tend to start at the back of the head and spread around in a band-like manner.
They are generally caused by fatigue, poor sleep, anxiety, stress or withdrawal from caffeine. Muscular damage can also be a factor, or perhaps you have been holding your head in one position, such as at a computer.
Tension headaches can last for some time but they do not worsen with exertion.

Cluster headaches

These are similar to tension headaches, but they occur in sharp bursts and often go away again for prolonged periods before returning.

Migraines
These headaches can be particularly debilitating – usually beginning on one side of the head, before often spreading to both. You may also notice changes in your sense of taste or smell before suffering a migraine. This is called migraine with aura. Your vision can also be affected and you may suffer nausea and occasional vomiting. A migraine can be quite prolonged and in rare cases can last for days. Those who suffer migraine with aura should avoid the oral contraceptive pill and monitor blood pressure.
Sinus headaches
Another common cause of headaches is sinus congestion, signalled by a
a dull ache over the eyes and across the cheeks and teeth. These can be quite prolonged and uncomfortable.

It is important to realise that, while all these headaches mentioned above are uncomfortable and debilitating, the conditions are benign. Once the pain or cause is relieved there is no need for further intervention.

However, there are other types of head pain that should be investigated. If a headache is sudden and severe or if it’s the worst you’ve ever had, go to A&E. You should also get attended to immediately if you suffer any slurring of speech, loss of vision, or loss of power. If you get an associated rash, fever or stiffness in your neck, this headache could be a sign of a haemorrhage or meningitis.

You didn’t provide your age, but over fifties should see a doctor if suffering a new onset of headaches, especially if these are prolonged and if the aches are worst in the morning or when eating.

Medical advice provided is not always suitable for specific cases. Always see your GP if you are concerned about a medical problem.

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