Headaches

Why is my head aching?

Most people can get headaches from time to time. Some people are unlucky enough to get a headache nearly every day. Headaches can be caused by a number of different reasons, including lack of sleep or stress. They can also come about after consuming the wrong food or drink, or too much, or too little, of either.

More serious headaches occur very rarely and are generally the result of an injury, such as a fall or knock to the head. This, in turn, causes bleeding in an area of the brain that leads to a build up of pressure. Headaches associated with these types of injuries are often very severe and are generally accompanied by other symptoms, such as loss of consciousness.

Severe headaches may be a sign of a serious condition such as a brain tumour. These types of headaches cause intense pain and are often preceded by other symptoms like seizures, changes in vision or loss of strength in the arms and legs.

Somewhere in between these two extremes are headaches resulting from sinus pain, such as when you have an infection, a cold or influenza. When the sinus cavities fill up with infected liquid, sudden head movements often cause a deep throbbing pain.  

If you get headaches frequently, then you need to seek advice from a health professional. Your community pharmacist can help you identify situations that cause your headaches. Often it may be as simple as avoiding the activity that causes the headache – some people get a sharp headache after eating ice cream, others from over exertion. In both these cases, avoidance is the best treatment.

Some people are unfortunate enough to suffer from migraines. There are many effective treatments available to treat and prevent migraines. Ensure you get your condition diagnosed by your doctor and follow their advice about treatment options. You can also talk to your community pharmacist about managing your lifestyle to lessen the effects of these conditions.

Treating most headaches is generally simple. If the pain is so severe that you do not believe that a simple pain relieving medicine will fix the problem, then get medical help immediately. Pain relieving medication, such as paracetamol, will ease most headaches. But if you have tried paracetamol, and it hasn’t helped, then your pharmacist will be able to advise you on the next step to take to resolve your symptoms.

If you are unsure of the cause of your headache, and don’t know whether or not to get help from a doctor, then talk to your local community pharmacist. They will be able to guide you to a likely cause and give clear advice about whether treating the headache, or the cause of the pain, will be enough.