POSTED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 10:46am
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 10:47am
More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches.
They can be so painful and disruptive that people will try anything to make the pain go away.
What many people don't realize is that this head pain is often a way for your body to let you know something is wrong, and finding out what's wrong could be the key to living headache free.
"A headache is just your brain's way of saying you're having pain, which could be a signal that there is something else going on," says Georgetown University Hospital Neurologist Dr. Jessica Ailani.
She says a person's lifestyle is often the culprit.
Things like dehydration, not eating enough, bad sleep habits, not exercising and stress are common causes.
"There's actually hundreds of different types of headaches and that headache is very much based on your symptoms," she explains.
Pain on both sides of the head could be a tension headache, which often feels like something pressing against the temples.
Migraines are usually described as being painful on one side of the head and often comes with other symptoms like nausea or sensitivity to light and sound.
Pain on the base of the neck could be a sign of neck problems.
And if the pain is sharp or stabbing and shooting from the back to the front of the head, that could imply there's an injury to a nerve in the back of the head.
Dr. Ailani says to see a physician for your headaches if they occur more than once a week, they don't respond to over-the-counter medication or if you're taking these drugs more than eight days a month.