When it comes to diagnosing and preventing headaches, understanding causation is essential to coming to an effective natural treatment solution. There are many different types of headaches that are characterized by their causes and localized pain area. Cluster headaches, rebound headaches, and migraines are just a few of the most severe types of headaches, and Dr. Pierce Waychoff, co-director of the Live Health Foundation, says they each have different triggers.
“Each one has many different causal factors such as stress, allergies, muscle tightness, sinus pressure, spinal misalignment, physical exertion, medications, lack of sleep, etc.,” writes Dr. Waychoff.
Are you unsure of the cause of your headache or migraine? Here are a few potential causes of headaches, broken down by headache type.
Cluster headaches are known for being some of the most severe in terms of pain. They’re called ‘clusters’ due to their pattern of affliction. They onset as a series of headaches that last for days, weeks, or even months at a time. It’s not exactly clear what causes cluster headaches, but experts know it has to do with the trigeminal nerve, a facial nerve located near the eye.
When seeking natural treatment for cluster headaches, keep in mind that their symptoms are often mistaken for allergies or stress because they tend to come on at the same time each year.
Rebound headaches mostly occur in those who frequently take over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. The overuse of these medications can cause a withdrawal effect, which triggers a rebound headache. Rebound headaches are more likely to occur in those who take medications with caffeine.
Migraines are categorized as severe throbbing and pulsing sensations, normally isolated to one side of the head. They usually come with other unpleasant side effects, including vomiting, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity. Migraines, like cluster headaches, don’t always have a clear cause, but they are typically a result of brainstem changes and trigeminal nerve interactions. Genetics and environmental factors can also make a person prone to migraines.
For those who are prone to migraines, it’s important to keep in mind that they can sometimes have multiple environmental triggers, such as foods and beverages, stress, sleep pattern changes, medications, and other sensory stimuli. Migraines remain undiagnosed and undertreated in at least 50% of patients, and less than 50% of migraine patients consult a physician. Make sure to consult a physician for natural treatment if you feel as though you may be suffering from consistent migraines.
Treatments: Imitrex and Topamax
Above all, Dr. Waychoff says that seeing a medical professional you trust is essential to achieving relief.
“Treatment options include seeing a medical provider to whom you trust,” he explains. “When this occurs, the medical provider will most likely do an exam and prescribe some sort of medication.”
But before you seek treatment for your headache or migraine, it’s important to have an idea of the medications that are most often prescribed to patients for headache treatment. Dr. Waychoff says that Imitrex and Topamax can be effective in both preventing and alleviating headaches and migraines.
“The most popular medications that currently help with headaches are Imitrex and Topamax,” says Dr. Waychoff. “Imitrex treats headaches that an individual currently has but will not prevent future headaches …Topamax works by preventing future headaches. Topamax works to decrease the number of future headaches but it does not help if a headache has begun.”
Ultimately, it’s always important to prioritize your health, especially when it comes to headaches, which can drastically affect overall quality of life. Depression is three times more common in people with migraines or severe headaches than in healthy individuals. Whether seeking natural treatment or traditional treatment through medications, taking action is always the best way to see results.