Heads Up On Managing Your Headaches

By the team at Speedoc,
May 19, 2021

Many of us have experienced some form of a headache either upon jumping out of bed first thing in the morning or faced with a blinding headache out of nowhere in the middle of the day. Headaches are different each time. Some are bearable but uncomfortable, another could cause a throbbing ache, while others are distractingly painful.

First, we must identify the reason(s) for or frequency of the headaches especially if you are managing your chronic conditions from home. We must understand what the headache is a symptom of especially if we have underlying conditions or experience frequent migraines.

There are basically two major types of headaches - episodic and chronic.

Episodic Headaches

Episodic headaches occur once in a while and can last for either a couple of hours or the entire day. They usually go away on their own or when you move around, distract yourself, or take medication for it.

Chronic Headaches

Chronic headaches happen more often and are more consistent. You could be feeling like you’re experiencing a headache for no reason and they may last for most days of the month.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headaches are extremely common and nearly everyone has suffered from headaches at some point in their lives.

The most common type of headache is tension headaches which affect over ⅓ of men and ½ of women the world over. Frequent headaches, which has been reported by 1 in every 20 adults that do not seem to go away could be caused by headache disorders (a headache that occurs nearly every day).

The Different Types of Headaches We Usually Experience The many different types of headaches include:

  • Tension headaches - you feel a dull aching headache all over your head in no specific area. It feels tender and sensitive all around your head, neck, scalp, forehead, and shoulders.

  • Cluster headaches - these headaches often appear in a series and feel like severe burning or piercing sensations behind one eye or one side of your face. There may also be some form of flushing, swelling, nasal congestion, tearing of the eye, and sweating. After one headache goes away, you may soon be hit by another.

  • Migraine - you feel a painful pulsing from deep inside your head which can last for days without reprieve. Migraines are throbbing headaches, usually on one side of your head/face, that is painful enough to disrupt your daily routine. You might also feel sensitive to light, sound, and experience nausea or vomiting.

  • Allergy/Sinus headaches - along with the allergic reaction you may already be experiencing, they could also be accompanied by pain on the front of your head near your sinus area. One cause could be Hay Fever which happens when your immune system identifies airborne substances as dangerous to your body.

  • Hormone headaches - women may experience headaches related to menstruation (period), birth control pills, or pregnancy because of fluctuations in the body’s hormone levels. They’re also known as a period or menstrual migraine. They occur mostly before, during, or right after you’ve had your period.

  • Exertion headaches - exertion headaches spring on you as quickly as they usually go away. These headaches, usually on both sides of your head, usually occur after an intense session at the gym, running, or even sexual intercourse. There’s an increase in blood flow to your skull which could be the reason for it.

  • Hypertension headaches - this pulsating headache that should never be taken too lightly. Your blood pressure has become high enough for your body to send a signal, causing you a headache on both sides of your head, getting worse with each activity you take on. Vision problems, numbness or tingling sensations, nosebleeds, chest pains, or shortness of breath usually accompany hypertension headaches. Seek medical attention for it if you’re suffering from a chronic disease like high blood pressure.

  • Rebound headaches - if you’ve been using over-the-counter medication from pharmacies, headaches due to overuse could occur. The headaches are dull, piercing, or migraine-like. Overuse of OTC medication could lead to more headaches, especially if the medication contains caffeine.

  • Injury-related headaches - this happens when you’ve recently had a head injury or concussion. They appear like migraines or tension-type headaches and can last between 6 to 12 months after your injury. They can also develop into chronic headaches if left untreated.

Sufferers often disregard headaches because they can be easily resolved with Paracetamol and other forms of painkillers. However, repeated headache attacks that don’t go away, which may be accompanied by the fear of another attack soon, can affect work, family, and social life.

It’s simply better to understand the reason behind them and seek medical help when it becomes a roadblock in our daily lives.

The Location of Your Headache

Although this quick guideline is not set in stone and you would need an examination by a professional healthcare provider to determine the cause of your headache, the following list should give you a pretty good idea about why you’re having headaches.

  • Back of your head or neck area- tension headache or migraine

  • Top of your head - tension headache or migraine

  • Forehead, cheeks, behind both eyes - tension headache, migraine, cluster headache

  • Behind one eye - cluster headache, migraine, eye infection

  • Temples - tension headache, migraine, cluster headache

  • Behind the ear - ear infection, sinus infection, occipital neuralgia

  • On one side of the head - migraine, cluster headache

  • Hurts all over - tension headache, migraine, sinus infection

When Are Headaches A Red Flag?

Are Headache, Allergies, And Nausea Covid Symptoms?

With the soaring number of COVID-19 cases being reported worldwide, including Singapore and Malaysia, it’s OK if you’re anxious about your headaches when they come with other COVID-like symptoms.

If you’re concerned, read up these COVID-19 myth busters published by W.H.O. Please bear in mind that a headache in itself is not the only indication of the infection.

In most cases, headaches will ebb away within a couple of hours, within 48 hours, if they’re not chronic. It could, however, be dangerous if the headache lasts for more than 48 hours and increases in intensity even with the help of over-the-counter medication. If it goes on, contacting a doctor for a consultation is advisable.

Yes, a headache is listed as one of the symptoms of COVID-19, and so is nausea, diarrhoea, rashes, fever, dry cough, tiredness, and many more. If you have two or more of the symptoms for COVID-19, please get in touch with MOH, a hospital, and inform your workers, boss, family and friends immediately.

Headaches and Strokes

One of the signs of a stroke is a very sudden headache that is both severe and intense. However, the headache is also sometimes associated with other less critical health problems, which includes a ‘mini stroke’ or a transient ischemic attack. What you should measure when you’re suddenly struck with a sudden headache is its intensity level.

When you’re suffering from a stroke, it is often accompanied by other symptoms like loss of sight in one eye, losing feeling in one of your hands or feet, numbness or weakness on one side of your body, trouble speaking or comprehending normal conversations, sudden dizziness, and confusion.

Headaches and High Blood Pressure

The truth of the matter is that high blood pressure is a condition that comes with very few symptoms. That is how it got its name, "the silent killer". Therefore, a headache is not a sign or symptom of high blood pressure nor heart disease.

It’s important, however, to know your blood pressure level and make lifestyle changes to keep it within healthy boundaries.

In some extreme cases like hypertensive crises where your blood pressure is 180/20 mm Hg or higher and you’re experiencing nosebleed, headaches, and feeling generally ill, get in touch with your doctor for a more definitive diagnosis.

Headache: When To Call A Doctor Or Go To A Hospital?

Common headaches do not usually last more than a few hours or a few days. If your headache lasts more than two days, it is a good idea to get professional attention.

For example, if you’re experiencing headaches half the time every month for approximately three months, you may be experiencing chronic headache conditions. What you can do is to keep a calendar or journal for your headache episodes. Record the date, length of time, intensity level, and medication taken for you to overcome it. This will help your doctor rule out certain medical conditions during consultation.

To reduce your risk of picking up any other unwanted illnesses in a hospital, clinic, or other public places, it will be a better idea to seek medical help over the phone before visiting a health facility.

Doctor Home Consultations is An App Away

Call Speedoc for a Doctor Consultation if you’re experiencing persistent headache or are suffering from a Chronic Disease. Our CDHM packages are designed to help you manage chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, and diabetes.

Download the Speedoc App now to connect with and book a healthcare professional online! You can also call us at +65 6909 7799 to speak to someone immediately or email us at contact@speedoc.com.