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Headaches: Triggers and Treatment

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By Vicki Santillano / www.divinecaroline.com

I spend at least eight hours a day in front of the computer. As a result, more often than not, my days end with a dull, throbbing pain behind my eyes that makes me hate light and loud sounds. My coworker gets headaches too, but her pain is at the temples instead.

Because headaches are so common, neither of us has looked into this. I guess we both assume they are an annoying part of life with no viable solution beyond aspirin and a nap.

However, there are many established triggers for headaches, most of which we can avoid or eliminate (even the eyestrain that is the bane of my existence). The process starts with the knowledge that there are different kinds of headaches based on where we feel the pain. Learning about the more common types of headaches—tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches—will help us figure out what causes them in the first place and how to reduce their occurrence.

The Three Big Hitters
Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most frequently occurring type and are characterized by a feeling of tightness on both sides of the head, the forehead area, and/or behind the eyes. The feeling is often likened to a band being wrapped around someone’s skull, but it’s actually caused by the muscles on the back of the head pulsating and causing pressure. If these types of headaches occur only occasionally, they are episodic and treated with a change in lifestyle or aspirin. Chronic tension headaches occur almost every day and can require prescription medication.

Migraine Headaches
Migraines are characterized by sharp, throbbing pain at a certain spot on the head (though sometimes it occurs on both sides), which is usually followed by nausea, an aversion to bright lights, and visual disturbances like seeing spots or auras. The exact causes are unknown, but researchers have determined it has something to do with blood vessels swelling and making contact with sensitive nerves when there is an influx of chemicals in the brain. The pain from a migraine headache is significantly more severe than that of a tension headache.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.