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Headache & Migraine

Headache pain can be described as dull and throbbing or sharp and localised. Each type of headache has its own characteristic symptoms. Migraine headaches differ from tension headaches in that the pain is usually restricted to one side of the head, and may be described as a throbbing pain of moderate to severe intensity

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Which type of headache is causing you pain?

Three common types of headaches are tension, migraine and cluster. See below more information on each type of headache. Figuring out which type you have can help to treat the symptoms and may be useful in helping to prevent future headaches.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headache. This type of headache is often associated with muscle tightness and tenderness in the head, face and scalp, and is often accompanied by neck pain. Activities that cause the head to remain in one position for a long period of time can cause this type of headache. Other triggers include physical or emotional stress, eye strain and fatigue.

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Tension headaches can:

  • result in mild-to-moderate pain and feel like a tight band of pressure around the head
  • be felt equally on both sides of the head, be uncomfortable and annoying. However, they are generally not severe enough to prevent daily activities such as walking.
  • last from 30 minutes up to 7 days.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines differ from tension headaches in that the pain is usually restricted to one side of the head and may be described as throbbing pain of moderate to severe intensity. Many migraine sufferers may become temporarily sensitive to light and noise, and may also experience nausea and vomiting.

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Migraine headaches can:

  • last from a few hours to a few days and attacks can be recurring
  • be more common in women than men
  • be caused by various triggers which vary from person to person.

Fortunately, identifying and managing migraine triggers can  reduce the risk of a migraine attack.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are severe headaches of sudden onset, and arguably the most intense, and men are more likely to suffer from them than women. The “cluster” in cluster headaches refers not to the location of the head pain, but rather to the grouping of the attacks over time. This is the main difference between cluster headaches and tension or migraine headaches – cluster headaches regularly recur over a certain period of time.

Cluster headaches can:

  • be described as intense, burning, sharp pain, which is usually localized to one side of the head
  • Usually be felt around the eye, temple or neck
  • Worsen as time passes, lasting from 15 minutes to three hours

If you think you are suffering from cluster headaches you must seek advice from your GP.

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