According to the World Health Organization, headaches are the third highest cause of time lost to ill health in the world, making them a public-health concern due to disability and financial costs to society. Headache disorders — recurring headaches — occur in an estimated half of all adults worldwide. It affects people of all ages, races, income levels, and geographical areas.
The International Headache Society identifies more than 150 different types of headaches! These are divided into three categories: Primary, Secondary, and Other.
Primary Headaches—Headaches are considered to be primary when they are not caused by another condition, but are the condition itself. The main categories of primary headaches are:
• Tension-type headache (TTH)
• Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias (TACs), which include cluster headaches, paroxysmal hemicrania, short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks, and hemicrania continua
• Other primary type headaches include those induced by cough, exercise, sexual activity, thunderclap, cold-stimulus, or external-pressure, plus the categories primary stabbing headache, nummular headache, hypnic headache, and new daily persistent headache (NDPH)
Secondary Headaches—The types of headaches in the secondary category are those that are a symptom of something else, such as trauma or injury; cranial, intracranial, or cervical vascular disorder; use of or withdrawal from a substance such as nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, alcohol, caffeine, or histamine; medication overuse; infection such as sinusitis; disorder of homoeostasis
from altitude/diving, dialysis, hypothyroidism, etc.; disorders of facial or cervical structure; or psychiatric disorders.
Other Headaches—Additional types of headaches can be caused by painful cranial neuropathies such as lesions or disease of the trigeminal, glossopharyngeal nerves or nervus intermedius, occipital neuralgia and other syndromes, neuropathies, and palsies.
The most common headaches are the primary type migraines, tension-type, and cluster.
Migraines are defined as severe pulsing, throbbing headaches that often come with nausea and vomiting and sensitivity to light, noise, and even movement. Sufferers sometimes experience an ‘aura’, which is a combination of indicators that a migraine is coming, such as tingling, light flashes, or blind spots. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 39 million Americans—10 to 12 percent of the population—suffer from migraines, and the cost of healthcare and lost productivity is estimated to be as high as $36 billion a year in the U.S. alone.
Tension-type headaches are the most common type of headache. The American Migraine Foundation states that “the pain commonly described on both sides of the head (bilateral) as ‘a band around the head’ or vice-like.” These headaches are not usually accompanied by additional symptoms other than increased sensitivity to light or sound (not both) or tenderness in the head and neck muscles.
Cluster headaches, named so because they tend to happen in groups, are “intense and feel like a burning or piercing pain behind one eye, either throbbing or constant,” according to WebMD.
Depending upon the type of headache, treatment varies. Some are most easily treated with rest and relaxation, over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, or heat or massage. Some may require prescription medications or therapies. Some headaches, such as migraine and cluster headaches, may require experimenting with several types of treatments in order to
figure out what works. Not all treatments work the same for everyone, and some come with side effects.
Medical research is critical to improving the prevention, treatment, and eventual cure of these common types of headaches. Meridien Research is conducting migraine and cluster headache research studies. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 888-777-8839.