Splitting the causes of headaches

Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. It has been estimated that 47 percent of the adult population have a headache at least once within last year. Despite the high percentage, the occurrences of headaches are grossly underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated.
Dr Cory Couillard
Dr Cory Couillard

Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. It has been estimated that 47 percent of the adult population have a headache at least once within last year. Despite the high percentage, the occurrences of headaches are grossly underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated.

Headaches are associated with a variety of personal and societal burdens, pain, disability, damaged quality of life and excessive financial cost. Tension type headaches can affect up to two-thirds of adult males and more than 80 percent of females.

Statistics indicate that about 3,000 migraine attacks occur every day per million people and as many as 1 in 20 adults will have a headache nearly every day.

Migraines, tension and sinus headaches

The most common types of headaches include migraines, tension and sinus. The symptoms of the headaches differ based on the individual and the unique causative triggers. The goal should not be limited to just treating headaches but preventing them through prevention techniques as well.

Migraines are the most common amongst adults and teenagers. The symptoms include severe pain on either side of the head that moves from one area of the skull to another. Migraines are commonly grouped with a series of other symptoms as well.  It’s common to experience an upset stomach, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound and severe moodiness.

The most common type of headache is the tension type headache.  The pain associated with this type commonly extends deep into the neck, shoulders and the middle of the back.  Poor posture, abnormal sleeping positions, past or current injuries and a significant amount of stress can contribute to tension headaches.

Sinus headaches commonly affect individuals during weather changes and seasonal allergen exposures. Sinus headaches are caused by pressure in the nasal passages that can cause fever, eye strain and coughing. The pain is continuous and is commonly mistaken for a migraine type headache.

A cluster headache is the least common – but most severe – type of primary headache.  The intensity of this headache is very high and can be described as a burning or piercing pain.  This constant pain is located behind one eye or in the eye region.  Cluster headaches usually occur at a specific time of day and recur one to three times in a very predictable cycle.

Causes of headaches

Hormonal changes are the most common cause of headaches in women. The physical, chemical and emotional stress of puberty, monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancies and menopause require constant hormonal fluctuations throughout life.  Even minor imbalances can be a cause of headaches.

Headaches can also be triggered by specific environmental factors such as exposure to second-hand smoke, fumes from household cleaners, perfumes, exposure to certain allergens and even certain foods. Stress, pollution, noise and certain types of lighting are other environmental factors that can trigger headaches.

As you can see, many of the causes of headaches are part of our everyday lives.  Nearly all forms of headaches can be prevented and treated through improved nutrition, physical activity levels, stress reduction techniques, proper sleep and adequate hydration levels.

One of the most important actions is to write down and document the specific triggers of one’s headache. The appropriate treatment of headaches requires accurate diagnosis and recognition of the condition, appropriate treatment with simple lifestyle modifications and patient education.

Dr. Cory Couillard works in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education.

Facebook:Dr Cory Couillard

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News