Headaches are defined by pain or discomfort in the head, neck or scalp. It can be caused a wide variety of things including illness, medical conditions, tension and tightening of the surrounding muscles, emotional or physical stress, lack of caffeine, and many other sources. Migraine headaches are a type of headache, though slightly different in their causes, treatments, and the severity of pain. Treatments for headaches range from over-the-counter and prescription medications to lifestyle changes.

Causes of Headaches

Each different type of headache is caused by a different thing, illness, or lifestyle choice. For example, tension headaches are caused by the tightening of muscles in your neck, shoulders, scalp or jaw. Tension headaches are also the most common type of headache and can also be related to anxiety, stress, depression, head injury or from holding your head or neck at odd angles. The most severe type of headache is a migraine headache with includes other symptoms like nausea or vision problems. Migraine headaches can be pulsating, pounding or throbbing and there aren’t known causes of migraines. Migraines can be triggered by chocolate, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes. Rebound headaches are those that keep coming back and are often caused by the overuse of painkillers. Other types of headaches you might get are cluster headaches, sins headaches, and those caused by an illness like the cold or flu. Rarely, a headache is caused by a more serious condition such as a brain infection, brain tumor, very high blood pressure, or stroke.

Treating Headaches at Home

In most cases, you will be able to treat your headaches at home. If you have a headache, start by drinking plenty of water as dehydration can lead to a headache as well as nausea and vomiting. Sit in a cool, quiet and dark room, avoiding sunlight and harsh indoor lighting. Place a cool cloth on your head and try to practice any relaxation techniques you have learned. If it is not gone in an hour or less, you can take over-the-counter medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen. The medication that works best for you may be different than someone else. Keep track of how often you get headaches and what might have caused them, such as what you ate, what you were doing shortly before or thinking about, what kind of stress you have been dealing with, how you slept the night before, how long the headache lasted, and what you did to make it go away.

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