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Headache Treatment in India

What is a Headache?

A headache is defined as a condition of continuous pain in the head. This extremely common condition can also occur in the upper neck area. A headache can either occur across the entire head or can in specific parts like the temples and eyes. A headache can be dull or sharp and may also cause symptoms of nausea and light sensitivity. Headaches have multiple causes and many severities. Migraines are the most severe type of headache.

Types of Headache

  • Migraine Headaches : Migraines are the most severe and common type of headache. Migraines generally occur on only one side of the head. This type of headache can last from 2-72 hours and is usually accompanied with vomiting, nausea and sensitivity to sound & light.  They normally exhibit a throbbing type of pain. A Migraine with Aura or a classic migraine is a migraine that shows warning symptoms. Acephalgic Migraine, Ocular Migraine, Hemiplegic Migraine, Opthalmic Migraine and Basilar Migraine are the less common types of migraine. A patient can also have more than one type of headache known as migraine plus tension-type.
  • Sinus Headache : This type of headache is majorly caused by infection due to building up of excess fluid. Sinus headaches involve ethmoid, frontal and maxillary sinuses.
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  • Tension Headache : Typically referred to as hat-band headaches, tension headaches are considered the second most common type of headache. These headaches usually cause pain in the forehead, temples and back of the head. This headache can last from 2 hours to several days and can occur alongside a migraine. Tension headaches can be treated with the help of relaxation therapy, muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories and thorugh physical therapy. Tension headaches are very painful, similar to a migraine headache.
  • Compound Headache : This type of headache involves migraine headaches and muscle contractions.
  • Cluster Headache : This type lasts for a much shorter duration as compared to migraines, from twenty minutes to 2 hours. It usually occurs on only one side of the head and include symptoms of tearing, droopy eye lids, enlarged pupils and a stuffy nose. Cluster headaches can occur many times in a day and last for weeks. They normally disappear after several weeks.
  • "Atypical" Headaches : These headaches are treated by specific methods and precise diagnosis.
  • Hypnic Headache : This type of headache is usually seen in people between the age of 40 and 80. A unique feature of this headache is that it occurs at the same time during nights and lasts for about 15-60 minutes, affecting the entire head. There are no symptoms like tearing, runny nose or cluster headache symptoms. Specific treatments and medications are given to treat hypnic headaches.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia or "Tic Douloureux" : In this severe type of headache, there is an irritation of the 5 th  cranial nerve that comes and leaves suddenly. People suffering from this severe headache sometimes commit suicide, as the pain is extremely severe and occurs unexpectedly.

Symptoms of Different Type of Headaches

Symptoms of Cluster Headaches include –

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • A cluster cycle that last for more than six weeks
  • A stabbing sensation on one side of the head
  • Severe pain in and around temple or eye
  • Can occur many times a day during a cluster cycle
  • Attacks lasting from fifteen minutes to three hours.

Symptoms of Migraine with Aura Headache include –

  • Pain may range from mild to excruciating
  • Involves pulsating or throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Aura starts 5-30 minutes before headache pain
  • Pain lasts for 4-72 hours
  • May be accompanied by sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of Hormone Related Migraine Headache include –

  • Decrease in headache after menopause
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Use of estrogen-replacement therapy or use of oral provokes headaches
  • Pain in one or both sides of the head
  • Headaches worsen after or before menstrual period

Symptoms of Rebound Headache include –

  • Symptoms worsen over time
  • Mild to moderate pain in front and back of the head
  • Need for continuous or daily use of pain medication

Symptoms of Tension-type Headache include –

  • Pain in both sides of the head
  • Stress related pain
  • Pain may involve only nausea and not vomiting
  • Pressure like a tight band around the neck and head

Treatment Options for Headaches

There are several treatments available to decrease pain and disability due to headaches and migraines. Treatments depend upon frequency and type of headache. Different treatment plans include preventive medications, physical therapy, acute headache medications, avoidance of headache triggers and bio-behavioral treatments like relaxation therapy and biofeedback. In case of acute problems, symptomatic medicines can be given. Several preventive medicines are also given to decrease severity and frequency of headache symptoms.