As many as 45 million Americans suffer from recurrent headaches. In fact, about eight million doctor visits each year are related to headaches, most commonly, acute headaches. Acute headaches are headaches that are caused by an underlying disease or condition and are often extremely painful.
Types of Acute Headaches
A “typical” acute headache can occur in the forehead region, the temples, or the back of the head and neck, and may last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. The different types of headaches include:
- Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches. They are triggered by stress, anxiety and muscle strain. It is estimated that at least 80-90 percent of the population will experience a tension headache at least once in their life. Tension and other types of headaches are considered “episodic” if they occur less than 15 times per month, and chronic if they occur more than 15 times per month, consistently.
- Migraine headaches are the second most common type of acute headache, with about 16-17 percent of the population experiencing migraines. Adults who suffer from migraines generally had their first experience with a migraine between the ages of 5 and 8.
- Cluster headaches are perhaps the most painful of all the types of headaches and they can last hours or days. Victims of cluster headaches are usually around the age of 30, with less than one percent of the population suffering from this type of headache. Cluster headaches cause extreme pain on one side of the head, and occur in clusters, or cycles.
- Sinus headaches are sometimes confused with migraines, however will occur simultaneously with sinus infection symptoms. These symptoms can include congestion, pressure on the nose and under eye area, a stuffy nose and possibly a cough.
The Debilitating Nature of Acute Headaches
Headaches are not only painful, they can, in some cases, be disabling. Other than the severe pain suffered by headache victims, many of those who suffer from headaches may also have the burden of impaired quality of life and financial cost, as well as a predisposition to other illnesses. Repeated acute headaches can bring a constant fear of the next headache, and can damage employment, social life and family life. Those with chronic, acute headaches, may be more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
Treatment for Acute Headaches
Following an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe lifestyle modifications, as well as medications to lessen the pain.
Cervical epidural steroid injections, occipital nerve blocks, sphenopalantine ganglion nerve blocks and other types of medical interventions may also be appropriate, depending on your symptoms.