Understanding your headache's source is the key to easing the pain
Headaches can be triggered by any number of factors, including lack of sleep or food, anxiety, or even medications. But when the pain in your head won't go away, try these remedies, specific to the type you're expecting.
Symptoms: Pain on both sides of your head. These are the most common type — affecting 70 percent of men — and are usually triggered by extreme stress or neck strain.
Treatment: Over-the-counter drugs are usually all that's needed (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen). But you may also find relief with a massage to loosen tight neck muscles.
Prevention: Sit up straight at work. Sitting hunched over your desk all day can set it off, especially if you're under stress. Keeping tension headaches at bay may be as simple as a quick walk outside away from the tumult of the office.
Symptoms: Intense, throbbing pain, usually on one side of your head, accompanied by nausea and/or sensitivity to light or sound. Not fun. It's uncommon for men in their 20s or over to start developing migraines, so if you've never had one before, that pain is probably something different.
Treatment: Prescription meds such as sumatriptan are most helpful. So is rest in a quiet, dark room.
Prevention: Identify and eliminate your triggers (the most common are red wine, cheese, and caffeine). Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce frequency and severity.
Symptoms: A sharp pain behind one eye that strikes suddenly, and goes away just as quickly. The headaches come in groups — or clusters — and can reoccur for days or months. Cluster headaches are rare, affecting less than 1% of adult, but men in their 20s are more likely to get them.
Treatment: Oxygen therapy has been shown to help alleviate the pain. You also may want to get checked for sleep apnea — up to 80% of cluster headache sufferers also have the condition, and treating one may help eliminate the other.
Prevention: They are hard to predict, but there are several drugs, including Sansert (methysergide maleate), that your doc may recommend as a preventive measure.