Many of us suffer from headache and just take a couple of painkillers and give it little more thought unless the symptoms are long lasting. However, there are a number of different types of headache with their own unique characteristics.

There are two different categories of headache. Primary headaches are those which are not caused by an underlying health issue such as tension headaches. Secondary headaches are those which do have a separate, underlying cause. This can be due to injury, illness or excessive alcohol for example.

This article outlines a few of the different types of headache that you may get and where possible the most appropriate course of treatment for them.

Tension Hadaches

One of the most well-known types of headache is a tension headache. Unsurprisingly occurring as a result of stress, tension or anxiety. They can also be caused (for example) by dehydration, hunger and lack of sleep. The physical symptoms can be treated with over the counter painkillers. If there is an obvious cause of stress then getting some rest, ensuring you have eaten and drunk sufficient water may help ease the symptoms. In addition, by either dealing with the stress trigger or avoiding it (whichever is more appropriate) this will make the headaches lessen.

Sinus Headaches

When sinuses become swollen or inflamed they can become blocked causing pressure in the area. This can lead to a sinus headache which can be very uncomfortable. Self-treatment can include holding something cold or cool over the affect area or possibly a nasal decongestant spray to try and relieve some of the pressure. If over the counter treatments do not help it is worthwhile seeking professional advice from your doctor. Prescription medications may be given by your doctor or they may choose to investigate any possible underlying causes of the sinus headaches.

Cold & Flu related Headaches

When you are suffering from a cold or influenza they can cause headaches. This is often due to the same reason as when you suffer from sinus headaches. It is a pressure build up somewhere causing a headache to happen. By applying something cold or cool to the area you may relieve some of the pressure. You can also speak to a pharmacist to see if there are any appropriate decongestants that may be used. Seek professional advice from a doctor if the symptoms are prolonged or self-treatment is having no effect.

Withdrawal Headaches

Whether your withdrawal headache is due to overcoming excessive alcohol, a reduction in your usual high level of caffeine intake, giving up smoking or anything else it is not an uncommon experience. Treatment does depend on whatever the withdrawal is from and it is beyond the scope of this article to list all possibilities. In most cases these headaches can be treated like any other by over the counter painkillers and staying hydrated in particular. If you are at all concerned it is best to seek immediate medical advice as sudden withdrawal of certain substances from the body can be potentially very dangerous.

As you can see there are a variety of causes for headaches and it is worth considering if you are actually suffering from a migraine rather than a headache as the management and treatment of migraine is slightly different to that of headaches. Advice on migraines can be found elsewhere including the migraine trust (migrainetrust.org).

Pete Kontakos is a blogger that writes about health, fitness and sports. You can follow him on Twitter or on his Examiner Sports page.