How to get rid of a headache: Best medication for minimising painful symptoms

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If you find yourself suffering from headaches, what can you do about it to minimise their occurrence? And what do they signify anyway?

When the thin layer of tissue (known as the periosteum) becomes irritated, a headache emerges.

The periosteum surrounds the “bones and muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes and ears”, explained MedicineNet.

The pain associated with a headache can be a “dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, intermittent, mild or intense”.

Which headache do you have?

Primary headaches include tension headaches and cluster headaches.

Secondary headaches are due to underlying reasons, such as dental pain, post-concussion headaches, hangovers and dehydration.

Tension headaches

As the most frequently occurring type of headache, the pain is most likely caused by a “contraction of muscles that cover the skull”.

Stressed muscles may become inflamed and spasm, causing pain for the sufferer.

Commons signs of a tension headache include pain that begins in the back of the head and upper neck.

It’s often described as a “band-like tightness or pressure”, which may spread to encircle the head.

The most intense pressure may be felt at the temples or above the eyebrows – it mostly affects both sides of the head too.

Tension headache treatment

“Most people successfully treat themselves with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications to control tension headaches,” stated MedicineNet.

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In conjunction, stress management and a massage may also be beneficial in relieving a tension headache.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches can appear daily for periods of a week or more, then not appear for months or years.

Typically, a cluster headache occurs at the same time, “often in the middle of the night”.

These are thought to happen when there’s a sudden release of histamine and serotonin in the brain.

It’s believed the hypothalamus – located at the base of the brain – is responsible for this.

There seems to be a genetic link with cluster headaches, as they’ve been observed to run in families.

They may also be triggered by changes in sleeping patterns or medication.

People susceptible to cluster headaches may find that smoking, drinking alcohol and eating chocolate can be triggers.

The pain associated with a cluster headache is located around or behind one eye.

Each painful episode can last from 30 to 90 minutes, and the pain is described as “excruciating”.

Notoriously difficulty to treat without specialised medication, prevention is better than cure.

This would mean not smoking and minimising alcohol intake to prevent future episodes.

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