Nearly everyone has an occasional headache. Usually it is mild and brief, although some headaches may last a long time or feel very severe or recurrent, happening several times a week. Headaches have many causes and are not often associated with serious medical problems.
Yet safe and effective treatments allow most people suffering from headaches to resume their normal activities within a short period of time. That’s why it is so important to understand what causes your headaches and how it might be possible to avoid them. Here we take a closer look at what headaches are, what causes them, and how you can prevent and treat them.
What Are Common Headaches?
Common or general headaches are characterized by feelings of pain and discomfort in the head and face. They are among the most common nervous system disorders, and estimates show that nearly half of the adult population have suffered from a headache at least once in the past year.
The severity of general headaches varies greatly in different people. And there are many different classifications of headaches, such as tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, exertion headaches, eyestrain headaches, sinus headaches, and many more. They can also be classified as primary, if the headache is the main medical problem, or secondary, if the headache is a side effect or caused by another medical condition.
The pain from headaches can also be felt in different parts of the head. They can be felt on one or both sides of the head and feel like a dull ache, a sharp-shooting pain, or a throbbing sensation. These types of pain can be centralized in one location or radiate all around the head and be difficult to pinpoint. Also, headaches can come on suddenly or take several days to develop and become symptomatic.
Who Suffers from Common Headaches?
General headaches are very common, and nearly everyone has experienced at least one. Some studies have shown that women are more prone to headaches than men, but they can occur at any time in both genders and at any age.
Most people experience headaches on an occasional basis. But more frequently occurring headaches may indicate a chronic condition or the onset of another medical concern.
Symptoms of Common Headaches
These are some of the most common symptoms of general headaches.
- Pain on one or both sides of the head
- Pain that extends down the back of the head and neck
- Dull pain that feels like a band around the head
- Muscle stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- Increased sensitivity to light and noise
Symptoms of headaches can become worse if left untreated. Other symptoms that can be associated with headaches include fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath, and vision changes. Severe symptoms of headaches can involve difficulty walking, difficulty sleeping, excessive tiredness, confusion, and difficulty speaking.
Common Headache Triggers
Pain-sensitive nerve fibers in certain parts of your head can create headaches, including nerves in your scalp, face, throat, mouth, head, neck, and shoulders. Certain foods and beverages may trigger headaches, and those triggers can vary depending on the person. Stress is also a big trigger for headaches, and untreated anxiety and depression can lead to more severe and frequent headaches over time.
Also, some medications can cause general headaches as a side effect. Glare from the sun or artificial lighting, excessive noise, poor sleeping patterns, and either too much or not enough physical activity can be headache triggers too. Overall, the best way to prevent headaches is to avoid the triggers that cause them.
Preventative Measures for Common Headaches
The best way to deal with headaches is to prevent their onset entirely. If you suffer from recurring headaches, there are certain lifestyle changes that may help you prevent or lessen the severity of future headaches. These are some preventative measures for general headaches to consider.
- Exercise in moderation every day
- Get enough sleep each night
- Manage stress
- Discuss medications you are taking with your doctor, which could be causing your headaches
- Improve your posture while sitting and standing
- Avoid alcohol, especially red wine
- Avoid processed foods and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Never skip meals
Over-the-Counter Solutions for Common Headaches
In many cases, common headaches do not require prescription medication or professional attention. There are many over-the-counter solutions available to soothe headaches away quickly and safely.
Vanquish fights tough headaches with two powerful pain relievers, acetaminophen and aspirin, plus a small dose of caffeine to increase the speed of their effectiveness. It’s also easy on your stomach and won’t make you jittery. Plan to have Vanquish on-hand when your next headache strikes by buying online or shopping at popular retailers, like Walmart and Amazon.
Cold compresses, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and quiet time in a dimly lit room may also alleviate the symptoms of headaches. If your symptoms worsen or do not subside, it may be necessary to consult your healthcare professional for further diagnosis and treatment.