Headaches can vary from minor and irritating to severe and debilitating. Minor ones can be treated easily and quickly with over-the-counter painkillers. More severe headaches require the care of a specialist. It's important to pay attention to the symptoms for headaches, so you can quickly know how to treat and manage your pain.
The most common type of headache is the tension headache. Tension headaches account for about 90 percent of all headaches. Symptoms for headaches of this sort include:
- A band of pressure around the head
- Pressure at the back of the neck
- Tightness or pressure at the base of the skull
Migraine headaches are more painful and severe than tension headaches. Symptoms for headaches of this type include:
- Intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head
Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Seeing flashing lights or losing parts of your vision
Cluster headaches affect mostly men and occur mostly at night. Cluster headaches follow changes in the brain's blood flow. Unlike migraines, they last less than an hour, but occur in predictable "clusters" in which they may strike several times a day for three to eight weeks. Cluster headaches produce extremely severe pain, incapacitating victims even more than migraines.
Some symptoms for headaches can send up a red flag. If you experience any of the following, contact a medical professional:
- Slurred speech
- Numbness, weakness or less feeling in a limb
- Headaches triggered by exertion such as exercise, sneezing or bowel movements
- Headaches three or more times per week
- Sudden or very severe head pain, especially if previously pain free
- A headache that appears worse than most
- A headache after a head or neck injury
- A headache accompanied by fever, nausea, shortness of breath or vomiting; or unexpected symptoms of eyes, ears, nose or throat; or a stiff neck
Generally symptoms for headaches, no matter the type, can be recognized by a throbbing, pressure or tightness in the temples or behind the eyes. If you have regularly occurring headaches, schedule a consultation with the Neurology Department at the Mercy Neurological Institute. We can help diagnose and treat your symptoms, allowing you to enjoy a pain-free life.