We have all had a day in bed with a headache that we just can’t seem to kick. Most of the time we have headaches due to dehydration and they can be cured with a couple of glasses of water. Other times we do it to ourselves and drink too much the night before or strain our eyes with high contrast computer or phone screens in attempts to lull ourselves to sleep (which, by the way, is a terrible idea). Nothing that some time away from your screen and a good night’s sleep can’t do, right?
But there are also moments when you’ve done everything in your power to fix the pain, but it remains. Not knowing the root cause of your headache can be worrisome, so being aware of the signs and symptoms and implications of different types of headaches could save your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Serious Headaches
Headaches can be warning signs for a number of things that may be wrong with your body, or things you’ve simply neglected. Some of the effects of certain headaches can also be quite severe, including blurry vision, abdominal pains, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, brain tumors, and more. Laundry lists like this one can be scary especially if and when you get a headache. But don’t assume the worst because it could just be dehydration, bad allergies, or clogged sinuses!
That’s why knowing what to look out for in different headaches is helpful: it can save you a lot of worrying and be a helpful guide for how to alleviate pain. There’s a graphic below to help you determine the type of headache that you may have.
A thunderclap headache is nothing to clap about (so hold the applause, please). These headaches are scary because they come out of nowhere like a clap of thunder on a stormy night. They also don’t take long to reach peak levels of pain which can take less than sixty seconds. can be an indicator of a number of health problems. The scariest of these is a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which can be life-threatening. (1)
Symptoms: changes in vision, weakness, nausea, numbness, vomiting, or confusion
Potential Causes: leaking spinal fluid, small tears in the head or neck arteries, a burst artery, blocked head veins, or rapid changes in blood pressure
Generally, there are two types of tension headaches: episodic (i.e., they occur less than 15 days a month) and chronic (i.e., they occur more than 15 days a month) The pain between the two types varies in length, but the intensity itself is not unlike the other. (2,3)
Symptoms: headaches when you wake up, chronic fatigue, irritability, mild sensitivity to light or noise, general muscle aches, or disturbed concentration
Potential Causes: stress and anxiety, lack of physical activity, missing meals, poor posture, squinting, or dehydration
These are throbbing headaches that occur over and over again and tend to affect only one side of the head. The two most popular symptoms are disturbed vision and nausea, but there are other combinations. (2,4)
Symptoms: loss of appetite, warm and cold flashes, dizziness, bright flashing dots or lights, paleness, or fatigue
Potential Causes: hormonal changes (in women), food additives, stress, sensory stimuli, changes in wake-sleep pattern
These are short but extremely painful series of headaches that reach peak pain levels within five to ten minutes. No one knows exactly what causes them, but we do know that a facial nerve is involved due to the pain that people report feeling behind one eye. (6)
Symptoms: sharp pain behind or around one eye, a burning or piercing feeling, or your blood will start pulsing
Potential Causes: as mentioned above the source is unknown, but professionals have linked it in part to circadian rhythm (i.e., your body’s 24-hour clock)
These can be confusing because their symptoms are very similar to that of a migraine headache. More than 80 percent of people who think they’ve got a sinus headache just have a migraine. So don’t start treating for a sinus headache right away because it may not help you in some cases.
Symptoms: pain and pressure in the forehead, itchy or watery eyes, or pain when you move
Potential Causes: infection or inflammation of your nasal passages which leads to congestion
These are what’s known as a secondary headache disorder, i.e., one that is caused by a neck joint problem. They aren’t the most comfortable thing to deal with but once you fix your neck problem, you fix your headache problem. (5)
Symptoms: tenderness at the top of your neck and at the base of your skull, neck stiffness or a mild loss of movement (e.g., your ability to look left to right)
Potential Causes: the most common ones are from your upper neck joints which are a result of poor posture and muscle stiffness or weakness
How to Get Rid of Your Headache FAST
Originally posted at Diply