Headaches and migraines are super uncomfortable and can slow us down big time. Here’s a look at different types of headache pain and possible causes, and what you can do when you just need to be able to get on with your life, pain-free!
Types of headaches
Headaches are extremely common. Pretty much every person has experienced a headache at some point in their life, and at least half of all adults have had a headache in the past year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The most common type is a tension headache – also known as a “stress headache”. Chances are, you’ve experienced a tension headache before – that sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head. That dull, aching pain is super annoying, and often comes with feelings of stress, depression or anxiety. Other causes may include lack of sleep, jaw clenching and missed meals.
Meanwhile, a migraine is more serious. It’s a severe headache that can last anywhere from four to 72 hours, if left untreated. Symptoms include throbbing localised pain, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, and nausea and vomiting. Sinus pressure headaches, in which there’s pressure through the front of the face, ears, and teeth, are often mistaken for migraines. However, a sinus headache can be caused by a sinus infection or allergies.
A cluster headache is also considered severe and may require medical attention. Cluster headaches occur in “cluster periods” ranging from every other day to eight times a day, and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. Pain associated with a cluster headache feels like a stabbing pain behind or around the eye, usually on one side. Other symptoms include nasal congestion, tearing, a runny nose, facial and forehead swelling, constriction of pupils and eyelid swelling.
Top tips for headache pain relief
Just like there are different types of headaches, there are different ways to relieve them. But, one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to take some Tylenol for quick pain relief. As the oldest Paracetemol brand in the world, Tylenol is considered the number one over-the-counter painkiller globally. It’s got a great track record of super speedy relief for not only headaches and migraines, but also for body aches and dental pain, too.
The good news is, Tylenol 500mg has just become available here in Singapore, and is exclusively available at Guardian. So, now, you can expect fast relief in just 15 minutes when you take two tablets! And, not to worry – Tylenol is gentle on the stomach, even on an empty stomach. So, even if you haven’t yet had your brekkie, you can still take two tablets right away for that aching head you just woke up with!
More things you can do to help nip your headache pain in the bud:
- Take a hot bath or shower
This will help relax and ease sore muscles, and can be especially helpful for tension headaches and sinus headaches.
- Take a walk!
Fresh air and increasing blood flow can help, especially if getting outside removes you from common causes of a headache like strong smells or harsh lighting. Taking a stroll can also help relieve stress.
- Try a relaxation technique
Sit down with your elbows on the table and your fingertips on your scalp (under your hair). Press and move your fingers in small circles, working your way back over your head. See additional relaxation techniques here!
Preventing future headaches
Key to avoiding future headaches is understanding your triggers. Try keeping a running list of when your headaches occur, along with what happened in the hours before the onset.
Here are five important things to take into account when considering how to prevent headaches.
#1 Your sleep patterns: Inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to stress, fatigue and anxiety – all common cause of headahces. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, try changing your pillows, sleep positions, or the side of the bed you sleep on!
#2 Your setting: Think about how you feel when you’re indoor versus outdoors. Fluroescent lights, sunlight or brightness from your computer screen can be triggers. Try adding a desk lamp or turning down the brightness on your screen.
#3 Your eating patterns: Did you eat? What was it and at what time? Food and drink release neurotransmitters, which can cause headaches in some people. Triggers can include aspartame, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, cheese and more.
#4 Your cycle: When estrogen levels drop, especially right before your period, you may be more likely to get a headache. Keep track of your cycle and plan when you can!
#5 Your posture: Poor posture can play a part in the onset of your headaches. Try sitting up straight to keep blood flowing, and move around when you can if you spend extended periods of time bent over a desk.
At the end of the day, listening to your body is important. Everyone is different, and knowing what works for you (and what doesn’t) can help you avoid headaches.
When to call a doctor
Not every headache means you have to call your doctor. Simple steps like taking Tylenol or trying a relaxation technique may just do the trick! However, a headache can be a sign of a more serious issue that needs care. So, it’s a good idea talk to your physician if:
- you have more than two headaches per week;
- you experience a sudden, severe headache accompanied by a stiff neck or fever;
- you feel confused, short of breath, weak, or are experiencing loss of vision or loss of consciousness;
- your pain gets worse over a period of time past a few days;
- you have a headache after a head injury
- your headache is triggered by exertion, coughing or bending;
- you have persistent or severe vomiting not caused by another disease; or
- you have nonstop headache pain that you usually don’t have.
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