Headache Types and the Top 3 Causes
Death, taxes, and . . . headaches? Almost everyone will experience a headache at some point in their lives, and over 50% of people will deal with the effects of headaches in a given year.
Fortunately, headaches are rarely life-threatening. However, for people dealing with chronic headaches . . . they can dramatically impact your quality of life.
The International Headache Society has classified over 150 different types of headaches. The most common are migraines, tension and cluster headaches. Knowing what kind of headache you’re dealing with is the first step towards finding the best plan of care for headache treatment.
Migraine: sensitivity to light and sound are common during migraine headaches, and approx. 1/3rd of people will experience an aura before the onset of a migraine.
Tension: almost everyone will experience a tension headache during their life. Stress, anxiety, dehydration, and even posture, can trigger a tension headache.
Cluster: affecting more men than women, cluster headaches causes severe pain behind or around the eye and can last anywhere between 15 minutes to 3 hours!
Now that you’ve identified your headache type, we can start to unpack the root cause. Often a few simple changes in your daily routine has the potential to reduce or eliminate chronic headaches for good!
The Top 3 Causes of Headaches
A variety of factors can cause headaches. The good news is that many of these are lifestyle factors, habits and patterns that you can control. By understanding a few of the most common causes of headaches, you will have the information you need to make those key changes and to get on your way to finding lasting relief!
Ironically, one of the most common causes of headaches is the medication usually prescribed to treat headaches. In fact, overuse of many over the counter medications is a leading factor in a refractory (or bounce-back) headache, which is why pills may not be the best option for care.
Many tension headaches get their start with repetitive motion and poor posture while sitting or standing at work. Keeping your shoulders back and your spine in proper alignment throughout the day can help prevent future episodes.
And finally, most of the good stuff like coffee, cheese, alcohol and meats have substances that can cause headaches. You don’t need to eliminate them, but we recommend having a watchful eye towards moderation.
Medications: many commonly prescribed pain-relieving medications (including those prescribed for headache relief) list headaches as a top side effect!
Foods: coffee, cheese, alcohol and many types of meat contain substances that can contribute to headaches.
Posture: forward head posture caused by long hours sitting or standing at work is a primary factor in the development of tension and cervicogenic headaches.
Do you see anything in that top 3 list that may be contributing to your headaches? Taking proactive steps by improving your posture and ergonomics at work, moderating the foods which cause headaches, or asking your doctor about the side effects of medications and potentially finding alternative headache treatment options may help you reduce the frequency, severity, and impact headaches are having in your life.
If you have any questions, we’re also happy to lend a hand and an ear!
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant