Headaches are, to put it bluntly, a pain. When we feel one coming on, most of us pop a painkiller and hope that does the trick. But while all headaches are uncomfortable, there are actually different kinds, and the location of your headache can tell you what kind of headache you’re experiencing and how to treat it. Read on to find out about the four most common locations of headaches, what the location means, and how to make the pain disappear.
If your headache pain begins at the forehead and temples, you may be suffering from a tension headache. Tension headaches, also known as stress headaches, are the most common type of headache. Though they usually cause pain around the forehead and temples, this pain can spread to the neck and back of the head. To treat a tension headache, your best bet is to catch the headache right as it starts and immediately take an over-the-counter painkiller. Some sufferers find that hot baths and ice packs help, and if you know your headache is stress-related, try relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation on a regular basis.
If your headache pain is a deep pain that starts on one side of the face or behind one eye, chances are you have a migraine. Migraines aren’t just headaches; they’re part of a much-misunderstood collection of symptoms that affect far more women than men. Migraine pain often starts either on one side or behind one eye and can spread to the face, jaw, or neck. Many sufferers are sensitive to lights, sounds and smells while experiencing a migraine, and may become nauseous. Migraine pain can also get worse the more physically active you are during the episode, so to treat these stubborn aches, many find that lying down in a dark room helps relieve some of the symptoms. Taking over-the-counter painkillers at the first sign of an attack is also beneficial, though chronic sufferers should see their doctors to discuss treatment options.
If, however, your headache pain starts behind one eye but is sharp and excruciating, you might have a cluster headache. Cluster headaches are characterized by sudden, sharp bursts of pain located behind one eye that may spread to the face, head, neck, and shoulders. Often sufferers will experience redness and swelling in the eye and stuffiness in the nostril on the side of the head where the pain first began. Cluster headaches occur frequently for specific periods of time, known as clusters, spanning anywhere from months to years. Most treatments for cluster headaches, such as oxygen, local anesthetics, and corticosteroids, can only be given through prescription, so speak to your doctor if you suspect you are suffering from these.
If you feel your headache pain in your face, specifically in your cheeks and nose, you most likely have a sinus headache. Sinus headaches are often mistaken for tension headaches or migraines, but sinus headaches are caused by the inflammation of your sinuses, which can lead to swelling and increased mucus production that blocks drainage and causes a build-up of pressure that results in pain. Sinus headache pain occurs in the cheekbones, forehead and bridge of the nose, with pain worsening with sudden movements. To treat a sinus headache, doctors need to first treat the infection causing the inflammation of the sinuses, so it’s best to see your primary care physician to find out what treatment works best for your situation.
If your headache doesn’t seem to start in one location, and occurs infrequently, you’re like experiencing generalized head pain from dehydration, fever, allergies or fatigue. Generalized head pain is easy to treat, responds well to over-the-counter painkillers and, in the case of dehydration, is totally preventable as long as you stay hydrated.
Article written by: Emily Keyes. Follow her here.