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Throbbing headache

Reviewed by Cynthia Murphy, MD
Throbbing headache

Everyone suffers from a throbbing headache every now and then but some more often than others. There are many things that can cause it but there are also some ways in which it can be relieved.

Causes

 

A throbbing headache can really disrupt daily life. It can make it hard to think properly, make decisions or focus on a task. There are many things that can cause a throbbing headache and the triggers, which bring on the headache often vary from person to person. Some people will experience it if they sit looking at a computer screen for too long whereas others react to loud music. In some people the pain is not only isolated to the head but can travel down and affect the neck or top of the back. There are a number of types and causes of a throbbing headache.


A tension headache

 

When the muscles found in or around the scalp, shoulder or neck become tense and contracted it is known as a tension headache. It will feel like a constant dull pain, which usually starts at the back of the head but gradually spreads to the surrounding areas. A tension headache is most commonly the result of excessive stress and anxiety so individuals who work long hours holding their head up in the same position are prone to this kind of throbbing headache. Muscles can also become tense if you don’t get enough sleep or sleep in an awkward position.


 

A Migraine

 

Migraines are very severe forms of headache that often appears along side additional symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. The direct cause of migraines has not yet been established but it is possible that it is a hereditary condition. It tends to affect women more than men and could be linked to irregular brain activity. The pain tends to be felt isolated to one side of the head and will become worse with activity.


Cluster headache

 

This is a chronic condition that affects men more often than women. It causes a daily headache that can affect people for months before suddenly stopping. The direct cause again is currently unknown although research suggests that those who smoke and drink are more prone to the condition. This kind of throbbing headache is a sudden pain in one side of the head, which can be accompanied with nasal congestion and tearing of the eyes.


Further causes

 

There are a number of other conditions that can cause a headache including sinus infection, temporal arteritis, brain tumour, stroke and infection of the brain. Some of these are very serious so anyone who experiences persistent or very severe throbbing headaches should make an appointment with their doctor.


How to relieve a throbbing headache

 

The first thing that should be done when you feel a headache come on is to stop what you are doing and take some time to rest in a quiet, dark room. This will encourage your muscles to relax and an ice bag placed in the forehead will help to relieve the pain. Massaging the area is also very affective. Additionally avoid alcohol and eating heavy food such as chocolate and cheese.

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