Stress, overexertion, and even eating new foods can all be headache triggers – and there are plenty of others. Headaches are a common malady, but the pain can be more severe for some than others, and that means certain treatments will work better for some than others. The best option for your headache pain will largely depend on the kind of headache you’re experiencing.
Treating Dull and Achy Pain
If you feel a tight ring of pain around your head, pressure, or a dull ache, you’re likely dealing with what’s known as a tension-type headache. Mild to moderate pain can be felt on both sides of the head with these types of headaches. A neck strain, stress, poor sleep, hunger, depression, and anxiety are all possible causes.
Tension-type headaches can vary in frequency and severity. You may experience the occasional bout with a headache, or they could occur more than 15 times over the course of a month. The duration of the headache could range from half an hour to more than a week.
These sorts of headaches are usually treated effectively with over-the-counter medications, such as Aspirin, ibuprofen (like Advil and Motrin), and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Your doctor may prescribe daily medication to manage tension headaches. Massage, gentle neck stretches, and warm compresses can also be effective. Alternative therapies like meditation and relaxation training, which focus on reducing stress, can also offer a way to prevent headaches from starting in the first place.
Options for More Severe Headaches
Severe, throbbing headaches are known as migraines. They’re three times more likely in women than men. When experiencing a migraine, you’ll likely feel moderate to severe pain, and that pain could be pulsating. Other migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines typically get worse with activity, and can last up to 72 hours if left untreated.
If you can identify particular triggers of a migraine, avoiding those triggers or learning how to manage them may prevent or reduce the pain. But if a migraine still occurs, treatment options include:
- Resting in a dark and quiet room.
- Applying a hot or cold compress to your head and neck.
- Taking over-the-counter medications such as Advil, Tylenol, or Aspirin.
- Using other medications prescribed by your doctor (some of these medications may be prescribed as a preventative measure).
Treatment for Chronic Headaches
When headaches or migraines occur on 15 days or more per month, they’re considered chronic daily headaches. Symptoms of chronic daily headaches vary from person to person and over time.
An underlying illness may be behind an individual’s chronic headaches, in which case treating the ailment can halt the headache occurrences. If an underlying medical condition isn’t to blame, treatment will focus on preventing the headaches, and prescription medications like antidepressants may be used.
Most people will suffer a headache from time to time, and most aren’t a real hindrance to regular life. But if they’re severe, frequent, and disrupting your daily activities, it’s wise to talk to your doctor or stop by Brant Arts to talk about about treatment options that might be right for you.