If you have ever had a headache, you are not alone. Research shows seven out of ten people have headaches each year, and about 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. Headaches can last anywhere from a few minutes, up to weeks! Here are three of the most common types of headaches:
- Tension Headaches. Because 90% of Americans have experienced tension headaches, they are considered the most common type of headaches experienced in children and adults. They can be described as a tightening, dull or painful squeezing sensation on either side of the head. Some last only minutes, while more severe cases can last days at a time. In most cases, the pain begins in the back of the head and spreads forward. Tension headaches are mostly caused by temporary stress, anxiety, fatigue, and anger. In some rarer cases, they can be caused when the shoulder, neck, scalp or jaw muscles tighten. People who experience tension headaches are 60% more likely to have reduced social and work activities.
- Migraine Headaches. Migraines are sneaky. They begin as a faint dull ache, but then soon turn somewhat disastrous. 25-30 million Americans suffer from migraines every year, and usually first start happening before the age of 30. People experiencing migraines will suffer from an intense throbbing and pulsating pain on (most commonly) one side of the head. The pain can eventually spread to both sides of the head and worsens when moving. Migraines can last hours and even days in extreme cases. These migraines can be triggered by weather, different types of foods, caffeine withdrawal, lack of sleep, or excessive amounts of alcohol. Some side effects of migraines include nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. Research shows that 20% of people experiencing a migraine will also get an aura. Auras precede a migraine and have symptoms such as seeing wavy lines, dots, or flashing lights. Some people even experience tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes.
- Cluster Headaches. Cluster headaches are sharp, non-throbbing pain that is experienced behind the eyes. It can happen several times a day and mainly attack in groups, hence the “cluster” description. These headache’s symptoms include tearing of the eye, bloodshot eyes, runny nose, and pain on the side of the head. Rare chemical reactions in the brain are thought to be one of the causes of these headaches. Still, over one million people in the U.S. suffer from cluster headaches, more commonly men between the ages of 20-40.
These are only three out more than 150 types of headaches recognized by the International Headache society. Three out of four headaches are caused by neck or scalp tension and more than 70% of people with headaches do not see a doctor. Headaches can be classified in two different ways: Primary/Benign or Secondary/Organic. Primary headaches are three listed above. Secondary headaches are caused by injury, illness, or sinuses.
There are multiple ways you and your loved ones can prevent headaches. Watching your diet carefully helps because different foods can trigger them. Recording your headaches in a diary, noting the time of day, length of pain, and intensity. This way you can start to understand what lifestyle triggers may be causing your pain. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco to decrease the likelihood of having a headache. Manage your stress as that is one of the most common causes of headaches. Eat and exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, and visit a chiropractor. Chiropractors can help ease most of the tension if they are causing your headaches.