What is an Acute Headache?
An acute headache is a sudden onset of pain or discomfort that quickly escalates into an extremely painful headache.
The most common types of acute headaches are:
• Tension Headaches
• Migraine Headaches
• Cluster Headaches
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What Causes Acute Headaches?
There is no definitive answer as to what causes an acute headache, although some triggers have been identified:
• Stress or tension
• Fatigue, lack of sleep, or changes in the usual sleep pattern
• Birth control pills or use of hormone replacement therapy
• Certain foods like, wine, cured meats, dark chocolate, and artificial sweeteners
• Reducing the amount of caffeine consumed regularly
• Certain medical conditions such as infections, sinusitis, thyroid problems, tooth pain.
• Head injury
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How to Prevent Acute Headaches
People who suffer from recurring headaches should learn to recognize and avoid their triggers, in addition they should also:
- Not smoke
- Limit their alcohol intake
- Exercise regularly
- Follow a healthy diet
Symptoms of Acute Headaches
Tension Headaches: These are the most common type, usually occur in the late afternoon and last a few hours, usually dissipating by evening. The pain associated with a tension headache is mild to moderate, located across the forehead or in the back of the head, often on only one side. These headaches can occur daily.
Migraine Headaches: These headaches cause moderate to severe pain and can last 1-3 days, migraines are recurrent and can be seriously debilitating. Pain occurs usually on one side, but it may change sides; migraines often occur in the temple, the back of the head, or behind the eye. The pain felt might be a throb or a sharp persistent pain.
Cluster Headaches: Severe pain is felt often on one side of the head. Individuals may experience 1 or 2 cluster headaches per day, they are more common at night and patients are often woken by the pain.
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Patients should seek immediate
emergency medical treatment when:
- They experience severe pain
- Have numbness or weakness on one side of their face or body
- The headache started after a head injury
- Aside from a headache the patient becomes forgetful, confused, or has trouble speaking
- The headache is accompanied by a stiff neck and fever
- Patient has a constant headache with vomiting
- Recurring headaches that happen almost daily and don’t seem to improve even after treatment
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