Category: Health News

Scottsdale, Arizona - Your head hurts. Again! The first step in foiling your frequent headaches is determining what type of headache you're battling. Sometimes headaches are a symptom of another disease or condition; sometimes there's no clear cause.

Take a close look at your headache signs and symptoms. Your doctor may suggest you keep a headache diary to help diagnose your headache type. Write down when your headaches occur, accompanying symptoms, and any potential triggers such as food, changes in sleep or stress.

Are the headaches dull and achy?

Tension-type headaches, the most common variety of headaches:


Most intermittent tension-type headaches are easily treated with over-the-counter medications, including:

Daily prescription medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, may manage tension-type headaches. Medications combined with behavior therapies may be more effective.

In addition, alternative therapies aimed at stress reduction may help. They include:

Are the headaches throbbing and severe?

Migraines affect three times more women than men. Migraines may:


Migraine treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing additional attacks. If you know what triggers your migraines, avoiding those triggers and learning how to manage them may help prevent and lessen migraine pain. Treatment may include:

Do you have headaches nearly every day?

Chronic tension-type headaches and chronic migraines are both types of chronic daily headaches, which are those that occur 15 days or more a month. Other common types of chronic daily headaches include hemicrania continua (a one-sided headache that may feel like a migraine) and new daily persistent headache (headaches that generally occur in people who do not ordinarily have headaches and occur daily).

These types of headaches are characterized by their frequency and duration. The symptoms and characteristics vary between chronic daily headache types and over time.

There are also several types of rare chronic daily headaches, including hypnic headaches, which generally occur after the age of 50 and can wake you from sleep, earning it the nickname the "alarm clock headache." Primary stabbing headaches (which last for a few seconds and may occur several times throughout the day), primary exertional headaches (from coughing or exercise) and chronic paroxysmal hemicranias (sharp, one-sided headaches that may cause tearing or nasal congestion) are also types of chronic daily headaches.


Treating an underlying disease or condition often stops chronic daily headaches. If headaches aren't caused by another health problem, treatment focuses on preventive medication.

For chronic migraines, for example, tricyclic antidepressants (Amitriptyline) may help prevent future migraines.

Do the headaches recur for weeks at a time?

Cluster headaches occur off and on for weeks at a time over the course of a few months. These headaches are rare, but most often affect men and smokers. Cluster headaches:


Cluster headaches tend to subside quickly, so treatments need to be fast-acting. Treatments may include:

Do you take pain medication more than 2 or 3 days a week?

Medication-overuse headaches occur from overuse of pain relieving medications for headaches for at least three months. They develop at least 15 days out of the month, and often occur along with chronic daily headaches. Taking pain medication several times per month can increase the risk of developing medication-overuse headaches.

Sometimes called rebound headaches, medication-overuse headaches:


Typical treatment involves discontinuing the medications that cause these headaches. Sometimes medications need to be tapered off, and sometimes they are stopped altogether.

You may need preventive medications or other treatments, called bridge therapy, to help control pain as you stop taking the medications that caused your medication-overuse headaches. Your doctor can help you come up with the best plan.

Recognize emergency symptoms

Seek emergency evaluation if you experience:

These symptoms suggest a more serious underlying condition, so it's important to get a prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Take control

Almost everyone gets headaches, and most are nothing to worry about. But if headaches are disrupting your daily activities, work or personal life, it's time to take action. Headaches can't always be prevented, but your doctor can help you manage the symptoms.