COMMON HEADACHE TYPES
Tension-Type Headache or TTH accounts for up to 90% of primary headaches, making it the most common headache type by far. The duration can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days and is described as a tight pressure around the head, usually across the temples and forehead. The severity can range from mild-moderate and is categorised further into 3 classifications depending on the frequency and chronicity.
Chronic Daily Headache
CDH closely mimics the symptoms of Tension-Type Headache, however the diagnosis is reached only when the following criteria is fulfilled; (1) pain that is experienced in the head, neck and face that is present for; (2) at least 15 days a month, for more than 3 months in a year. It is closely associated with medication overuse and differentiation of the conditions is crucial.
Severe and intense pain that is commonly unilateral (one-sided), Migraines are considered one of the most disabling and incapacitating disorders. Migraines account for up to 30% of all headache types. The characteristic signs of Migraine are the accompaniment of “associated features”, most notably, visual disturbances and aura, nausea and vomiting or sensitivity to light, smell or sound. Contrastingly, migraines can also present without aura and are classified as “Migraine without aura”.
Menstrual Migraine is considered when symptoms of classic Migraine occur in close relation with the menstrual cycle, either immediately before, during or after. Previous theories pointed to hormone level imbalances as the culprit, however, research has concluded definitively that this may not be the case. Results from numerous studies have identified no difference in hormone level changes in Menstrual Migraine sufferers and controls (Migraine-free individuals). MM is considered a Primary Headache disorder as the cause remains unknown. Menstrual Migraine is a serious condition that affects 60% of female migraine sufferers.
The most common Headache type within the third category of Primary Headaches, Cluster Headaches are also termed “Suicide Headaches” due to the extreme nature of pain that is experienced within an episode. The attacks occur in ‘clusters’ of minutes to hours at a time. Individuals can experience several episodes in a day. The symptoms of Cluster Headache are readily identifiable and distinguishable in comparison to the other headache types. Typically, Cluster Headache sufferers will experience alternating periods of remission (headache-free periods) and symptomatic periods lasting for months at a time.
Classification and identification of your specific Headache type is vital in determining what treatment options may be available to you. Within the first assessment, your Headache Clinician will be able to identify your likely Headache diagnosis, the treatment options available for the identified condition, and, if determined that treatment is likely to succeed, a recommendation of a suitable plan for the treatment of your Headaches or Migraines.