When you feel a headache coming on, your first and natural reaction might be to turn down all the lights, grab your water bottle, and crawl into bed – but could you be doing more?
In order to properly treat your headache, it is important to understand what type of headache you have. And yes, there are types, and they also have different triggers, symptoms, and even remedies.
Causes: Migraines are actually caused by inappropriate activation of nerve fibers in the central pain modulatory system, Dr. Lauren R. Natbony, MD, who is an assistant professor of neurology and headache specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Center For Headache and Facial Pain explained.
According to Dr. Noah Rosen, MD, who is the director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck says 70 percent of migraine sufferers have a first-degree relative who also has the condition.
Symptoms: Ranging from moderate-to-severe pain intensity, migraines usually occur as throbbing sensations starting on one side of the head, Dr. Natbony said that Sometimes debilitating, they can last from 4 to 72 hours, with symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision.
Remedies: Dr. Natbony said that the most common preventative prescription medications are topiramate, propranolol, and amitriptyline.
For an over-the-counter remedy, she suggested acetaminophen. There is a new class of migraine preventative medication called CGRP antibodies, which are monthly-once injections.
Botox is also commonly used for chronic migraines or more than 15 migraine days per month for more than three months.
Causes: Tension-type headaches which last less than 15 days are likely caused due to the excessive tightening of head-and-neck muscles that trigger nerves to fire pain signals, Dr. Natbony explained.
Tension-type headaches that last more than 15 days per month are likely due to dysfunction in central pain processes, similar to migraines.
Dr. Rosen also noted that tension-type headaches are the most frequent, affecting about 40 percent of both men and women in the last year alone.
Symptoms: Dr. Natbony said that Tension-type headaches come in the form of pressing or tightening sensations on both sides of the head, which range from mild to moderate severity.
Stress is the most common reason for tension-type headaches. They are rarely associated with light or sound sensitivity, nausea, or vomiting, and attacks can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 days.
Remedies: Dr. Natbony’s treatment of choice for low-frequency and tension-type headaches is NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.” But if headaches occur more than two days per week on average then treatment is required “, then a daily medication like mirtazapine, tricyclic antidepressants, and venlafaxine should be considered.