Managing your headache

Mr Sinan Barazi explains how to self-manage headaches

There are many options when it comes to managing headaches, it can almost seem quite daunting. But do not despair, we are here to help things make sense!

Headaches come in lots of different forms, from the most common tension, sinus and menstrual headache to the more severe being a cluster headache and migraine. The way you will manage your headache will depend on the type. Today I am going to be discussing tension, sinus and cluster headaches.

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Tension headache

Tension headaches usually last from several minutes to a couple hours but for most people, it should not stop them from carrying on their day. The symptoms for a tension headache can range from a constant ache on both sides of the head, you may feel your neck muscles tighten and even have a straining type feeling behind the eyes.

 Here are some self-management treatments to help your pain: Firstly, start with the simple ways of easing a headache like drinking plenty of water, getting lots of rest especially if you have a cold or the flu. It can help if you try some exercise if you feel up to it and also taking paracetamol or Ibuprofen and even aspirin usually makes the headache symptom subside.

The management for tension headaches can be quite simple because they do not tend to be too painful or serious and are very common. Following the instructions above should make your headache disappear.

Sinus headache

A Sinus headache is related to Sinusitis and it is one of its symptoms but it is quite an uncommon headache and many people who assume they have a sinus headache actually have a migraine or tension-type headache.

The cause for a sinus headache is when the upper airways and lining of the nose becomes infected. This causes the sinuses to swell and leads to a build-up of pressure due to it being blocked.

Some symptoms can include throbbing around the cheeks, forehead and eyes typically on one side, worsening of headache when your head is strained, leaning forward for example. Also your face may feel quite tender to touch, almost like its swollen.

Ways in which you can manage this headache can consist of taking over the counter painkillers such as, ibuprofen and paracetamol along with having lots of rest and keeping yourself hydrated. Purchasing a decongestant to clear the sinuses and help with the tension it is causing, it also may help holding a warm flannel to your nose to help with the congestion. You can also try medications in which can help reduce the swelling in the nose like decongesting and saline nasal sprays.

Cluster headache

Cluster headaches can be excruciating, start quickly and most times without any indication. They can be described as a piercing sensation at the side of the head along with burning or a sharp pain which radiates towards the eye temple. These types of headaches occur in a pattern and typically occur every day lasting up to several weeks or months each time before they disappear. There can be periods where you can go weeks, months or even years without this type of headache before it returns. They occur around the same time each day and at similar times of the year.

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There are ways in which you can manage and treat a cluster headache. The usual pain management like paracetamol and ibuprofen is likely not to help as they are not fast acting enough.

Here are the treatments you will want when suffering from a cluster headache:

Sumatriptan injections – you can give yourself up to twice a day

Sumatriptan or Zolmitriptan nasal spay

Oxygen therapy – where you breathe pure oxygen using a face mask

The above treatments can relieve the pain within 30 minutes.

It is important to see your GP or consultant if you are suffering with cluster headaches as they may give you medication and treatments specifically to treat this. 

if you would like to read more on cluster headache then this organisation is all about supporting and raising awareness for people suffering with cluster headaches. Ouchuk.org

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.