One in five people suffer from headaches on average once a week. There are different types of headache, each brought on by different causes and requiring different treatments or prevention methods. Types of headache include tension, cluster and migraine headaches.
Tension headache is a type of headache caused by muscle tightness in the neck, shoulders and head. Muscle tightness is often the result of emotional or physical stress, lack of sleep or a poor posture. The sensation caused by the overstressed muscles is often described as a tight band of pressure around the head. This pressure-like, pinching pain can last up to several days.
Migraine is a serious type of headache that comes in the form of attacks. A migraine headache feels like a throbbing or pulsing pain (often felt on one side of the head) and typically includes other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and a sensitivity to sound, light or smells. It is still unclear what exactly triggers a migraine attack. We do know that a migraine is a complex brain disorder which has something to do with the blood vessels in the brain expanding and narrowing due to disturbances between nerve pathways and blood vessels in the brain. Hereditary factors appear to play a role in causing migraines.
Cluster headache is another type of headache that manifests as an attack. It is a very painful type of migraine that is relatively uncommon. Cluster headaches come in episodes that involve severe, pounding or sharp pain, localised to one eye. The affected eye is red, swollen and watery. Some cluster headaches are accompanied by a runny nose and forehead or facial sweating. Cluster headache attacks occur in episodes (clusters) of a few weeks up to, in some cases, several months. An attack typically lasts three hours at most, with pain so severe that cluster headache sufferers feel compelled to move around.
The underlying cause of cluster headaches is as of yet unclear. Because the pain is located behind the eye, which is the area of the trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve), it is suspected that this nerve plays an important role in the development of this type of headache.
Below, you will find an overview of commonly used medicines for the headaches mentioned above.