Headache Clinic @ Neuro Headaches

Symptoms and diagnosis for Headaches
Neuro

By Neurosurgery Singapore

Facts of headache

Headaches are a common complaint — the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source estimates that almost half of all adults will have experienced at least one headache within the last year.

While they can sometimes be painful and debilitating, a person can treat most of them with simple pain relievers, and they will go away within several hours. However, repeated attacks or certain types of headaches could indicate a more serious health condition.

A primary headache is not due to another condition — it is the condition itself. Examples include migraine and tension headaches. In contrast, a secondary headache has a separate underlying cause, such as a head injury or sudden caffeine withdrawal.

Different types of headaches

There are over 150 types of headache causes, but the most common types include:

  1. Tension headaches – These are the most common type among adults and teens. They cause mild to moderate pain and come and go over time. They usually have no other symptoms.
  2. Migraine headaches – These are often described as pounding, throbbing pain. They can last from 4 hours to 3 days and usually happen one to four times a month. Along with the pain, people have other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, noise, or smells; nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; and upset stomach or belly pain.
  3. Cluster headaches – These are the most severe. You could have intense burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye. It can be throbbing or constant. The pain can be so bad that most people with cluster headaches can’t sit still and will often pace during an attack. On the side of the pain, the eyelid droops, the eye reddens, pupil gets smaller, or the eye makes tears. The nostril on that side runs or stuffs up.
  4. Chronic Daily Headaches – This type occurs for 15 days or more in a month for longer than 3 months. Some are short. Others last more than 4 hours.
  5. Sinus headaches – With this type, you may feel a deep and constant pain in your cheekbones, forehead, or on the bridge of your nose. The pain usually comes along with other sinus symptoms, like a runny nose, fullness in the ears, fever, and a swollen face.
  6. Posttraumatic stress headaches – These usually start 2-3 days after a head injury or concussion. Symptoms such as a dull ache that gets worse from time to time, vertigo, trouble concentrating, memory problems & irritability may surface
  7. Spinal headache – This is the result of low cerebrospinal fluid pressure following a lumbar puncture. For this reason, it’s also known as a postdural puncture headache. 
  8. Thunderclap headache – This is an extremely severe kind that comes on rapidly, reaching peak intensity in under a minute. It may be benign, but it could also be a symptom of a serious condition requiring immediate medical attention.
  9. Exercise headaches – This happens when you’re active, the muscles in your head, neck, and scalp need more blood. Your blood vessels swell to supply them. The result is a pulsing pain on both sides of your head that can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 48 hours. It usually hits while you’re active or just afterward, whether the activity is exercise or sex.
  10. Hemicrania continua – This is a chronic, ongoing headache almost always affects the same side of your face and head.
  11. Hormone headaches – Females can get this type from shifting hormone levels during your periods, pregnancy, and menopause. The hormone changes from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also trigger headaches. When they happen 2 days before your period or in the first 3 days after it starts, they’re called menstrual migraines.
  12. Rebound headaches – This is also called as medication overuse headaches. If you use a prescription or over-the-counter pain reliever more than two or three times a week, or more than 10 days a month, you’re setting yourself up for more pain. When the meds wear off, the pain comes back and you have to take more to stop it. This can cause a dull, constant headache that’s often worse in the morning.

“There are many different types of headaches with varying causes and symptoms. Most are short-lived and rarely a cause for concern. However, being able to recognize what kind a person is experiencing can inform them how best to treat it.”

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What types of diagnosis?

Because there are many headache types, there are many methods that might be used to diagnose which type you are experiencing. It’s important to figure out whether you’re having a primary or secondary headache to receive effective treatment.

Our Headache Specialist begins with a physical exam and a thorough medical history. He will wants to understand your episodes of headaches such as:

  • duration
  • intensity
  • location
  • possible triggers

For some types, you could require diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. These tests can include:

    • MRI or CT scan
    • lumbar puncture
    • blood tests

Can you prevent headaches? -Neuro Headache Clinic 

Many headaches can be managed with preventive measures, but the methods will differ by headache type. Some types might be prevented with medicine, while others might be caused by the same medication. For this reason, it’s important to know what works for you.

Discuss preventive treatments with our Specialist to find a plan that fits your needs. Headache prevention could mean reduced headache frequency or intensity, or prevention altogether.

Primary headaches don’t cause permanent disability or death. However, if they are frequent and severe enough, they could be debilitating on a temporary basis. These types can often be managed when properly diagnosed and treated.

The outlook for secondary headaches will depend on the underlying cause. Some can be managed through simple changes to routines, while others could be fatal without immediate medical attention.

If you’re experiencing recurring or severe headaches, get medical assistance right away. An accurate diagnosis will be the first step in understanding and managing your headaches going forward.

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