"I Have A Headache"…Now What Should I Do?: Knowing Headache Type Can Help Identify Prevention and Treatment
today’s world, almost anything could give a person a headache.
The term "headache" is used and often overused to describe a reaction
to life’s general frustrations. For those people who suffer from
headache related pain, identifying it as "I have a headache" is not
specific enough to find relief. In order to find the appropriate
treatment to alleviate headache pain, it is critical to delve deeper
and identify a specific headache type.
what type of headache a person suffers from is the first step to
finding appropriate treatment. According to a recent survey by the
National Headache Foundation (NHF), 73 percent of headache sufferers
reported experiencing more than one type of headache. For this
majority, it is essential to determine headache type in order to
develop a specific treatment regimen. While migraine was the most
common and well-known type of headache in the survey, with 60percent of
respondents claiming it as a type they suffer from, it is important to
get a diagnosis by a healthcare professional to determine what type of
headache you actually have.
percent of NHF survey respondents reported taking initiative to
determine their headache type and learn more about their condition. Of
this group, 57percent took matters into their own hands and conducted
personal research via the Internet and reading healthcare magazines. Of
the 86 percent of respondents who consulted a healthcare professional
on this issue, 59 percent were successful in gaining a diagnosis of a
specific headache type.
yourself on different types of headache is important, said Dr. Lisa
Mannix, Board Member, National Headache Foundation and practicing
physician. "However, it is best to make an appointment with your
healthcare professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and to
establish the appropriate treatment plan."
professionals can educate the 41 percent of survey respondents who
reported not knowing that medication and non-medication treatment
options are available for headache symptoms. Thirty-eight percent of
respondents use the simplest non-medication treatment available to
alleviate their headaches: sleep. Massage is another example of a
non-traditional treatment option used by 16percent of the survey
participants. Healthcare professionals may also recommend medication
treatments such as the over-the-counter pain relievers used by 48
percent of respondents or prescription medications used by 1 5percent
of the respondents.
Additional NHF Survey Results:
- After Migraine headaches (60 percent), the next most common type among respondents was Tension-type headaches with 37 percent
- 28 percent of the survey participants suffer from Chronic Daily headache
- 23 percent of respondents reported suffering from Sinus headaches
percent of survey respondents who reported not knowing what type of
headache they suffer from represent headache sufferers nationwide who
could benefit from prevention andtreatment options that come from
determining their headache type.
list of characteristics of common headaches can help keep you keep
track of your symptoms which you can share with your healthcare
Characteristics of Common Headaches:
headache is characterized by any or all of the following symptoms:
pulsating or throbbing pain typically on one side of the head, nausea
or vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and visual disturbances.
The attacks may last four to 72 hours.
headache is the most common form of headache with symptoms of dull,
aching, and non-pulsating pain that affect both sides of the head and
can vary in frequency and severity.
Headache is often characterized by a headache that occurs more than 15
days a month for a period of at least three months.
headache symptoms may include tenderness over the sinus, a deep dull
ache exaggerated by head movements or straining accompanied by nasal
discharge, ear sensation or fullness, and facial swelling.
NHF Suggestions to Determining Your Headache Type:
- Keep a headache diary.
Identifying patterns among headache triggers, timing, duration and pain
level and location offers useful information to share with your
healthcare professional to help determine the headache type you are
- Educate yourself about headache.
Specific headache resources are available on the NHF Web site
(www.headaches.org) to educate sufferers on possible headache types,
symptoms, and potential treatment options.
- Educate yourself about treatment options; both medication and non-medication.
Treatments can have varying results from patient to patient so it is
important that a sufferer understands how each option may work for them
on an individual basis.
- See your healthcare professional. Make an appointment to specifically discuss your headaches with your healthcare professional.
founded in 1970, is a non-profit organization which exists to enhance
the healthcare of headache sufferers. It is a source of help to
sufferers’ families, physicians who treat headache sufferers,
allied healthcare professionals and to the public. The NHF accomplishes
its mission by providing educational and informational resources,
supporting headache research and advocating for the understanding of
headache as a legitimate neurobiological disease.1-888-NHF-5552
For more information on the NHF, visit www.headaches.org.