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HEADACHES -Know when to take them seriously!

A headache is a pain in any part of your head. It the commonest symptom for which patients visit their family doctor. It is also the commonest cause for referrals to a neurologist. All of you must have suffered a headache at some point or the other in your lives. Most of the times it is a mild to moderate pain which lasts for a few hours and clears up on its own or with some home remedies/ over the counter pain killers.

However, it is important to know that sometimes a headache could also suggest a more dangerous underlying disease. Read on to know more!

Types of headaches:

Headaches are classified as primary and secondary headaches.

Primary headache:

It refers to a pain directly arising from any of the structures within your head like the nerves, blood vessels or muscles. These do not indicate any underlying problems or other diseases. Commonest among them are:

  1. Tension Type Headache

  2. Migraine Headache

  3. Cluster Headache

Secondary headache:

These are headaches that indicate some underlying serious disease. In these cases the headache is merely an indication of some other condition.

They could range from relatively simple causes such as:

  1. Sinusitis (infection of the air spaces within your skull. Usually present in your forehead, either side and behind your nose)

  2. Ear infections, dental problems

  3. Dehydration

  4. Drug headache – some medications which you may be taking for other conditions like contraceptives, sleeping pills, medications for heart conditions, drugs containing caffeine etc

  5. Concussion or headache caused by injury to the head

  6. Viral fevers, flu or common cold

  7. Poor posture

  8. Hangovers

  9. High blood pressure

  10. Refractive errors or need for power glasses for your eyes

  11. Depression, Anxiety

to more dangerous or severe conditions like:

  1. Abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain like aneurysms

  2. Bleeding or clots within the brain

  3. Stroke

  4. Infection of the brain or meningitis

  5. Tumours

  6. Glaucoma

In case your doctor suspects a secondary headache in you, he/she may need to get further blood investigations and scans of your head done to make a diagnosis. You may also be referred to a neurologist if needed.

Know when to identify a dangerous type of headache in you or your loved ones by reading these red flag signs!

Fix a appointment with your family physician today if you are experiencing any of these "do not ignore" symptoms of headache!

Home remedies for headache:

If your headache does not fall into the features suggested in the above 2 images, you could try some of these self help methods to tackle it.

  1. Go out and get some fresh air

  2. Massage your head, neck and shoulders with gentle pressure

  3. Drink plenty of water and other fluids to improve your hydration

  4. Avoid direct sun and heat. Consider covering your head with a cap or a scarf if the exposure to sun is unavoidable

  5. Rest in a cool room with the lights off for a while

  6. Keep away from loud noises and crowded places during your headache

  7. If you are diagnosed with a migraine, look for specific trigger factors and avoid them.

  8. Do not skip meals

  9. Get adequate sleep

  10. Find doable stress management techniques like deep breathing, exercise, visualisation techniques, yoga etc that work for you. You could install apps on your smartphone for this purpose.

  11. Avoid excess alcohol and smoking

Stay healthy and inspired!

Further reading:

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