Headache Signs and Symptoms
How do headaches present?
Tension-type headache usually begins during the teens and it tends to affect more women than men. Tension-type headache is usually described as a pressure or tightness, like a band around the head that may feel like it is coming from or radiating to the neck.1
Signs, Symptoms, and “Red Flags”
How to tell if it’s a tension-type headache3
At least 10 episodes lasting around 30 minutes to 7 days per month
Associated with at least 2 of the following:
- on both sides of the head
- pressing or tightening quality
- non-throbbing in nature
- mild-to-moderate intensity
- not aggravated by routine activities
It should not be associated with:
- nausea or vomiting
- sensitivity to light and/or sound
Tension-type headaches are not the only cause for internal head pain. Certain symptoms and history should be considered for urgent referral for care.
A severe and abrupt onset of headache
Headaches that have suddenly “appeared” in middle-age or older (>40 years old)
- Associated complaints that may indicate problems with the nervous system like a stiff neck, focal signs (drooping face, paralysis on one side of the body and slurred speech) suggestive of a stroke, and reduced consciousness
- Other signs such as fever, looking ill, nausea and/or vomiting that occurs without history Significant changes in the pattern of headaches experienced, eg increased frequency or worsening severity
- Severe headaches at night or when waking up in the morning
- Onset with strenuous physical activity such as exercise
Meet Brody and Rebecca
Brody, 39, is a young executive working his way up the corporate ladder. With long workdays and tight deadlines, it’s not surprising he sometimes suffers from headaches. Brody saw his doctor about it and was glad to hear that these were nothing more serious than tension type headaches, though it impacts his life and work at times.
Brody needs something that works fast to relieve his headaches when he gets them but doesn’t want to take a lot of medicine to feel relief.
When it attacks, Rebecca gets a throbbing headache on the right side, feels sick and finds noise and light hard to bear. As a young mother to a newborn, she’s tired and stressed, waiting for the next migraine attack. All she wanted was to enjoy motherhood but with sleepless nights, the migraines are getting bothersome.
Rebecca wants something that she can tolerate and effective to help manage her migraines.