written by the home doctor team
If pain medication, water, food or sleep are not giving you relief from a headache, or if they’ve become a frequent occurrence, it might be time to check that they’re not an indication of a more serious health problem. Do you know the causes of a headache and when to worry?
There are more than 300 different types of headaches, some are easy to diagnose, many are not. Headache types include tension, cluster, migraines, medication-induced, sinus even ice cream – or sensitivity related – pain.
Some are a little less well known. For example, did you know there is such thing as an orgasmic headache? We kid you not. According to Harvard Health,“Strenuous exercise can cause headaches” and “sexual intercourse may also trigger headaches” with some men noting dull pain, but “others suffer from severe attacks”
Others, certainly aren’t associated with anything quite so enjoyable while some headaches may be symptoms of strokes, tumours or blood clots.
The most common headache and the one we often pop medication to clear up is a tension headache and it usually brings with it a dull squeezing pain.
“People with strong tension headaches may feel like their head is in a vice while their shoulders and neck can also ache,” Harvard Health reported.
“Some tension headaches are triggered by fatigue, emotional stress, or problems involving the muscles or joints of the neck or jaw. Most last for 20 minutes to two hours.”
Causes of a headache
According to Victoria’s Better Health, other causes of headaches include:
- Eye and vision problems
- Hormonal influences
- Disorders of the ear, nose or throat
- Disorders of the nervous system
- Injury to the head, neck or spine
- High blood pressure
- Poor posture that puts unnecessary strain on the muscles of the back and neck
- Extreme hot or cold temperature
- Especially loud noises
- Temporal arteritis
- And for those of us in denial about a casual coffee addiction, withdrawal.
A headache might be caused by one of these factors or several working together. Either way, it’s important to take note of the symptoms and possible triggers.
Know your symptoms and when to seek advice
One of the biggest warning signs to look out for is the frequency of your headaches. You should seek advice for re-occurring pain and if you notice sudden changes in your headaches.
Harvard Health recently published a list of headache warning signs that call for prompt medical care:
- Headaches that first develop after age 50
- A major change in the pattern of your headaches
- An unusually severe headache you would refer to as your “worst ever”
- Headaches that get steadily worse
- Pain that increases with coughing or movement
- If a Headache is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased alertness or memory, or neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizures
- Changes in personality or mental function
- If you have a headache that is accompanied by a painful red eye
- Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
- A headache that prevents normal daily activities
- Headaches after a blow to the head
- Any headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
- Headaches in patients with cancer or impaired immune systems.
While it might seem difficult to describe a headache to your doctor and a difficult pain to diagnose, there are a number of tests that can be run, including eye tests or sinus x-rays. There are many causes of a headache so it is important to know when you should seek advice.
Book a Home Doctor in Gold Coast on 13 55 66 if you are unable to see your GP during business hours.