An estimated 90% of the human population will experience a headache in their lives, according to doctors Mount Sinai. However, not everyone is affected in the same way. While some people have mildly irritating headaches that are few and far between, others experience debilitating pain on sometimes a daily basis, requiring much more intensive management.
There are four main types of headaches: tension, migraine, sinus, and cluster, and they all require unique ways of treating them.
Let's run down the list:
Tension headaches are far and away the most common, as they have been experienced by about 78% of the population. The pain wraps around the head, and can even cause pain in the top of the neck. These are caused by physical tension or stress.
Generally, these can be treated fairly easily with over the counter medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin.
Migraines are the most common type of chronic headache. Pain can occur in different parts of the head, but they are often much more severe than tension headaches. Migraines can also create what is called an aura, which is essentially sensory overload, making light, sounds, and smells particularly unpleasant.
To treat a migraine, it's best to rest in a cool, dark room, and use a cold washcloth or compress to reduce symptoms. While over the counter medications can be used, those who suffer from frequent, severe migraines are better suited with prescription medications. Gentle head massages can also help get rid of the pain.
Sinus headaches can be easily identified by the pain they cause in the sinus cavities in the forehead and underneath the eyes. They are caused by infection in the sinuses and often accompany a watery eyes, oddly colored drainage, and a fever.
Traditional over the counter medications can help relieve a sinus headache, as can holding a warm washcloth over the affected area to help break up the mucus.
Cluster headaches are pretty rare, and only 0.5% of people will experience these chronic, debilitating episodes. The pain is typically localized, but is incredibly excruciating.
Cluster headaches need to be treated with prescription medication and sometimes even using an oxygen mask to alleviate some of the pain. In many cases, those who suffer from cluster headaches take medication to try to prevent their occurrence.
Continue reading for more information from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Check out this handy infographic from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai that breaks it all down.