From migraines to sinus inflammation, headaches can destroy your quality of life, leaving you to struggle not only with severe pain, but also feelings of anger and helplessness. An understanding of the various types of headaches can prove invaluable as you seek to get this chronic condition under control.
According to the National Headache Foundation, 37 million Americans suffer from regular migraines. This condition is classified as a vascular headache, as it involves the inflammation of the blood vessels found in the tissues that surround the brain. These vessels swell and cause a throbbing type of pain, similar to that experienced during sinus headaches.
There is still a lot of confusion regarding why migraines are caused and how they form. Triggers can include everything from bright light to missing a meal. Migraine treatment also varies considerably, and while many sufferers take prescription medications, this can actually lead to worse headaches. Sufferers are increasingly turning to acupuncture; a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that migraine sufferers experienced fewer migraines after undergoing acupuncture.
If taken too often or in excessive doses, medications designed to ease headache symptoms can actually lead to worse headaches. These rebound headaches are best treated by tapering medication consumption. As with migraines, sufferers can also find relief via acupuncture.
Tension-type headaches are closely associated with stress and anxiety, although they can also be triggered by teeth clenching, sleep apnea, and missed meals. The Mayo Clinic reports that this is the most common type of headache, and yet, as with migraines, its causes are not fully understood. Both relief and prevention can be achieved through massage therapy.
Aptly-named cluster headaches arrive in groups. Sufferers experience severe pain in waves, typically on one side of the head. Periods of persistent headaches may last days, weeks, or even months, followed by periods of remission that may last up to several years. Prevention begins at home, with sufferers advised to avoid alcohol and stick to a regular sleep schedule. Traditional Chinese medicine can also prove effective; studies indicate that cluster headache sufferers who take kudzu root suffer fewer and less severe headaches.
People with migraines often mistakenly think that they have sinus headaches, but this is actually one of the rarest types of headaches. While most other headaches are associated with stress, anxiety, depression, or overuse of medication, sinus headaches are directly attributed to inflamed sinuses. This inflammation causes a throbbing sensation that feels nearly identical to a migraine or severe tension-type headache. Sinus headaches may also be accompanied by fever or a runny nose. Triggers are typically quite easy to identify, and may include either allergic reactions or sinus infections.
Headaches can damage your general wellbeing, but holistic health can help you reclaim it. If you’re passionate about helping others maintain a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, learn more about becoming a student in one of PCOM’s acupuncture, massage therapy, or holistic nursing programs.