Headache is a universal complaint and is one of the most common reasons for one to visit their general practitioner. It is not uncommon to relieve a minor headache with over-the-counter analgesics and a good few hours of sleep. However, some headaches can be more than a minor bother and cause severe disruption of your normal day-to-day functioning.
Here is a small guide to know your headache and when to visit your doctor.
This headache feels like a pressure band around the head; sometimes associated with neck and shoulder pain. They usually last for a few hours to a few days and can be relieved with painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Tension-type headache is usually due to functional causes like stress and burnout.
Migraine headaches are more debilitating. Adults with migraine usually present with at least 3 or more of the following symptoms:
One-sided, pulsating/throbbing pain
Photophobia: Sensitivity to light; patients with migraine tend to avoid light as much as possible and prefer a dark quiet room
Nausea and vomiting
Lasting from 3 – 72 hours
Aura: patients usually experience abnormal sensations before the beginning of a migraine headache. Aura can present as visual spots, lightning, abnormal smells, deja-vu, or abnormal sensations (numbness, tingling) on the face or the body.
Cluster headache presents as an intense one-sided stabbing pain, especially around the eye. The affected eye is watery, red with a runny nose on the same side. A very disabling headache, the affected person is unable to stay still and the pain usually lasts for 30-60 minutes. This headache gets its name from its episodic nature, where the headache occurs in bouts (clusters) at the same time every year. Unfortunately, the cause of cluster headache is unknown, however, this headache is benign and can be effectively treated with medications.
Sinus Headaches (Sinusitis):
This type of headache is associated with blocked sinuses. Sinuses are air-filled empty cavities in our skull and facial bones which are responsible for producing thin mucus and drainage of mucous in the nose. Some conditions can cause blockage of the sinuses leading to overproduction of nasal mucus and improper mucus drainage. Sinus headache presents as constant dull ache behind the eyes, in the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, and upper teeth. Sinusitis can be caused by the reasons listed below:
Upper respiratory tract infections like common cold and flu. Along with sinus headaches, patients can also present with fever, thick nasal discharge, and puffy faces.
Nasal polyps and Nasal Septum Deviation: Nasal polyps are abnormal growth in nasal passages. Structural deformations can disrupt the flow of the mucus discharge and lead to sinusitis
Seasonal allergies: These lead to excessive mucus production
Some headaches warrant an urgent medical evaluation and a visit to your family doctor/ER immediately. To keep it clear and concise here is a medical mnemonic to help you recognize the severity of your headache
-S: Systemic signs: fever, chills, weight loss
-N: Neurologic symptoms: confusion, impaired alertness or consciousness
-O: Onset: Abrupt, sudden for e.g.: thunderclap and the worst headache of your life.
-O: Older: New onset of headache especially after age 40-50 years.
-P: Progressive headache, getting worse with time, change in attack and frequency of your headache
Early recognition and management can help prevent long-term complications of headaches. Make sure to visit your family doctor to get a periodic health checkup regularly!
DR. SHAGUFTA PARVEEN MBBS
Jabal Sina Medical Centre L.L.C
Delivering Healthcare That Works for You
Jabal Sina Medical Centre L.L.C is a flagship medical centre in Ajman from the founders of Ibinsina Medical Centre, an institution that has provided ambulatory healthcare for over 20 years. Having started in 1998, our founders brought substantial investment to create the first custom-built private hospital in the area and we pride ourselves on maintaining a philosophy of shared management with patients throughout the process. Operating mainly in primary care, this approach places the patient at the centre of the care cycle, with doctors, nurses and specialists working together to provide a service that addresses each patient's core individual needs. Our fully qualified team of professionals are committed to supporting you in your journey from sickness to health in a compassionate, caring and confident manner, taking care of all of your concerns and providing necessary referrals.