A Quick Guide to the Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Headaches

There are two main types of headaches, primary and secondary. Primary headaches occur as the result of overexertion or strain related to different areas of your head. Various elements involved may include muscles in your neck and head, blood vessels around your skull, and brain chemistry. Cluster headaches, migraines and tension headaches fall in this category. Secondary headaches have an underlying cause such as a disease or condition. Brain freeze from cold drinks or food, sinus headaches from sinus cavity congestion, and thunderclap headaches fall in this category. Additionally, you can get spinal headaches due to low pressure in your cerebrospinal fluid. Whatever the cause or type, it’s important to see your doctor if your headache persists or gets worse over time. For more serious symptoms, your physician may refer you to a neurosurgeon for the best treatment options.

The Causes of Headaches

Headache pain comes from signals flowing between your brain and the blood vessels and nerves in your head. Scientific research shows that there are nerves in your head that switch on pain signals during a headache. However, how, and why they turn on is still something of a mystery. The following causes contribute to the duration and severity of your headache:

  • Illnesses that cause headaches include colds, infections and fevers, sinusitis, a throat or ear infection, and serious medical conditions.
  • Emotional stress, skipping meals, and medication can cause headaches. Physical strain due to overexertion, poor posture and inadequate exercise often lead to headaches.
  • Environmental causes include allergens, perfumes and chemicals, secondhand smoke, drinking alcohol, and eating certain foods. Noise, light, and weather changes trigger headaches in some people.
  • Migraines and headaches have a genetic factor that makes some individuals more prone to getting them.

Headache Symptoms

The frequency and intensity vary depending on the type and cause of your headache, and that will impact the treatment you need to feel better. While mild headaches may consist of a dull throb or pressure in the affected area, more serious symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches that begin when you wake up
  • Pain that gets worse if you sneeze or cough
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden escalation of pain
  • Severe, worsening, or continuous headache
  • Mood changes
  • Blurry or worsening vision
  • Weak limbs
  • Seizures

Your physician or neurologist can properly diagnose your headache and recommend the appropriate treatment for severe symptoms.

Headache Treatment Options

Over-the-counter solutions may work for mild headaches. However, migraines, and other severe headaches require more creative relief strategies, including the treatment options below:

  • For migraines, rest in a dark room, apply hot and cold compresses, and massage the affected areas.
  • Some doctors prescribe tricyclic antidepressants to suppress migraine pain.
  • For cluster headaches, preventive medications, prescription nasal sprays, and oxygen therapy can alleviate pressure and discomfort.

If you have chronic headaches, don’t ignore what your body is trying to tell you. Make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Lewis. At Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, we help patients with severe headaches and other conditions get the treatment they need, in the least invasive manner possible.

Call (601) 366-1011 for more information about headaches and to get the soonest available appointment so you can begin treatment.