Headaches are very common, most people will suffer from one at some point in their life. They are usually mild, go away without any treatment within a few hours, and in most cases are not a sign of anything serious.
There are different sub-types of headaches, such as tension headache, migraine, cluster headache and medication overuse headache. Doctors classify the type of headache to enable them to choose the best course of action or treatment. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and is also referred to as an everyday headache or stress headache. It’s often described as feeling like a tight band wrapped across the forehead, but it can also cause a dull ache or feeling of pressure behind your eyes and other parts of your head, neck and shoulders. It’s not usually severe enough to affect everyday activities. Tension headaches usually come and go over a few hours, but some people can have a more chronic type that lasts longer. Many people find they come at the end of a busy or stressful day.
You don’t usually need to see a doctor for the management of your headache, your local pharmacist can provide you with support. They may suggest painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. These medicines shouldn’t be taken for more than a few days at a time. Codeine-based medications are usually best to avoid unless recommended by a doctor.
A long list of things can trigger headaches. Common culprits are stress, dehydration, tiredness, menstruation, certain smells and noises. Other potential triggers are poor posture, poor light and poor eyesight.
You should make an appointment to see your doctor if you are unable to control your headaches with simple measures. If your headaches are more severe than expected or happening more frequently than a few times a month then your doctor would want to know. You should see your doctor if you experience headaches that come on suddenly and are the worst you have ever experienced. If there are any changes such as slurred speech, confusion, weakness, numbness, or if your headaches occur with fever, nausea or vomiting or neck stiffness, it would be best to treat this as an emergency and seek urgent medical attention.