Most of us have had at least one headache in our lives. For the most part, you can take a pain reliever such as aspirin, Tylenol or Advil and it will go away. For others the headaches may be triggered by something more serious and can occur on a regular basis. The following are nine different types of non-migraine headaches along with prevention, causes, symptoms and treatment options.
Post traumatic headaches can occur after a relatively minor trauma to the head and neck. Causes can include blood and fluid build up inside the skull, changes to the brain caused by the injury, neck and skull injuries that are still healing, and/or tension and stress. These types of headaches usually occur on a daily basis, but anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or propranolol can be used to treat the root cause of the pain. Symptoms include, head and neck pain, lightheadedness, tiredness, problems focusing, memory problems, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, mood and personality changes.
New Daily Persistent Headache typically occurs in a person with no history of headaches or migraines, but it could be the result of a viral infection. This type of headache can be moderate to severe and occurs everyday and can last for three months or more. Migraine-like symptoms are common including throbbing pain, nausea or vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Sometimes, it can resolve on its own, but does not respond to typical pain medications, but rather with anti-seizure medications such as Topomzax or Neurontin..
Hemicrania Continua is a continuous one-sided headache. The pain is continuous and can fluctuate in severity, but there is no known cause of this type of headache. For most people, this type of headache rarely switches sides and is present for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for at least three months. A variety of symptoms include tearing, redness of the eye, eyelid drooping, sweating, running nose, or nasal congestion. Light sensitivity and stabbing pain can also occur. Hemicrania continua can be treated with indomethacin, a medicine in the NSAID family that may help confirm a diagnosis.
Though rare, Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension headaches occur due to pressure inside the skull, but for no obvious reason. This type of headache is most common in obese women ages 20 – 50 and can mimic a brain tumor, though no tumor is present. Symptoms include ringing in the ears in time with the heartbeat, double vision, neck and shoulder pain, headache behind the eyes, and brief episodes of peripheral vision loss. Weight loss is typically the first treatment. If the headaches persist, your doctor may recommend a medication called acetazolamide (Diamox). This medicine helps your body make less Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – a clear, colorless body fluid found within the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord of all vertebrates.
A Tension-type Headache is a constant, dull, non-throbbing pain that can affect both sides of the head and often occurs with a tightness of the scalp or neck. It can feel like a tight band is wrapped around your head. This type of headache is often caused by emotional stress or depression. The key to treatment includes rest and relaxation techniques along with aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium; combinations of analgesics with caffeine; ice packs; muscle relaxants; antidepressants if appropriate; biofeedback; psychotherapy; temporary use of stronger prescription analgesics.
Trigeminal Neuralgia headaches occur as a short, jab-like pain in areas of the face, mouth or jaw. Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerves that are located on each side of your face and carry sensation from your face to your brain. These types of headaches are relatively rare, but more common in women 55 and over. Pain can be the result of chewing, cold air, or even brushing your teeth or putting on makeup. This can also be a sign of MS in women under 55. Treatment includes medications, injections or surgery.
Short-lasting Unilateral Neuralgiform with Conjunctival injection and Tearing (SUNCT) and
Short-lasting Unilateral Neuralgiform with cranial Autonomic symptoms (SUNA) headaches include attacks of moderate or severe, strictly unilateral, head or facial pain along the course of a nerve. The pain lasts seconds to minutes, occurring at least once a day and usually associated with red and watery eyes on the same side as the pain. Eyelid drooping or swelling, nasal stuffiness, forehead and facial sweating, and ear fullness are involuntary symptoms. The difference between SUNCT and SUNA is that SUNCT includes BOTH redness of the eyes and tears, but SUNA may have either one, but not both. Possible effective preventive drugs are carbamazepine, lamotrigine, gabapentin, and topiramate. At present, the drug of choice for SUNCT seems to be lamotrigine whereas SUNA may better respond to gabapentin.
If you are experiencing frequent headaches, record your symptoms and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about treatments or medications that may be right for you.
Sources: CHAMP, Mayo Clinic, migrainedisease.org, medlink.com, WebMD.