4 Common Headaches and How to Treat Them: Expert Advice from a Pharmacist

Discover effective treatments for tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches with tips from George Sandhu, Deputy Pharmacy Superintendent at Well Pharmacy.

Headaches can strike at the most inconvenient times, hindering concentration and productivity. Fortunately, George Sandhu, Deputy Pharmacy Superintendent at Well Pharmacy, has provided insights into five common types of headaches and their treatments.

  • Causes: Often caused by stress, sleep problems, and caffeine.
  • Symptoms: Pain on both sides of the head, face, or neck; feeling of pressure or tightness around the head; tenderness in affected areas.
  • Treatment:
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques.
  • Take regular breaks from screen work.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Types: With aura and without aura.
  • Migraine with Aura:
  • Symptoms: Sensory or visual disturbances (e.g., flashing lights, blind spots), numbness, difficulty speaking, followed by a throbbing headache.
  • Treatment: OTC pain relievers, anti-nausea medications, and keeping a migraine diary to identify triggers.
  • Migraine without Aura:
  • Symptoms: Moderate to severe headache on one side of the head, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, nausea or vomiting.
  • Treatment: Similar to migraines with aura; OTC pain relievers and anti-nausea medications.
  • Symptoms: Sharp, severe burning or piercing pain around one eye, watering of the eye, can cause nausea.
  • Characteristics: Occur multiple times a day for weeks or months; more common in men in their 30s and 40s.
  • Triggers: Smoking, alcohol, perfume, and strong smells.
  • Treatment: If OTC painkillers are ineffective, refer to a GP. No cure, but specialists can recommend treatments to ease and prevent symptoms.
  • Causes: Swelling of sinuses, usually due to an infection.
  • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, and tenderness around cheeks, eyes, or forehead; blocked nose, reduced sense of smell, green or yellow mucus discharge, high fever.
  • Treatment:
  • OTC decongestants, saline nasal sprays.
  • Antihistamines if caused by an allergy.
  • Pain relief.
  • Stay hydrated and apply warm compresses to the affected area.
  • Jaw pain when eating.
  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Sore scalp.
  • Numbness or weakness in arms or legs.
  • Headache that wakes you at night/morning.
  • Headache worsened by coughing, sneezing, or bending down.
  • Headache with a squint or inability to look upward.
  • Head injury.
  • Sudden, extremely painful headache.
  • Sudden problems with communication, memory, swallowing, balance, or walking.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Drowsiness or confusion.
  • Very high temperature with symptoms of meningitis.
  • Redness in the white part of the eye.
  • Headache starting within 5 days of a head injury.

By understanding these common types of headaches and their treatments, you can take the necessary steps to alleviate pain and seek appropriate medical advice when needed.

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