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Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Headaches are one of the most common illnesses in the UK, affecting millions of people each year. While they usually clear up on their own after a few days, in some cases they may be more severe.

By speaking to a doctor, you can get more information about what your headache might mean, while our GPs may also be able to advise you on ways to reduce the chance of your headache returning in future.

See a Doctor About Your Headache
Painful headache
Stress causes headaches

What’s Causing Your Headache?

The potential causes of headaches are extremely varied, with everything from stress to eating ice cream standing as a possibility. As such, if you are getting headaches, it’s good to think about any factors that could be causing them. For example:
  • Have you been feeling stressed lately?
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you eating three meals a day?
  • Are you drinking enough water?
  • How much alcohol do you drink?
  • Do the bright lights in your home or workplace make your head hurt?
  • Are you maintaining a good posture throughout the day?
  • Do you spend a lot of time on the phone?

The answers to all of these questions will reveal something about the possible causes of your headache. Once you’ve identified factors that are consistent with your headache, it will be much easier for a doctor to suggest ways to manage the problem.

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Common Symptoms of a Headache

Many people experience what are known as tension headaches, during which you will experience a constant aching or soreness around your temples that can last anything from an hour or so to several days.

Some people also get cluster headaches, which are generally more painful and sufferers will notice that they occur at similar times throughout the year. If you get cluster headaches, you may also notice other symptoms such as a runny nose, blocked nose or red, watering eyes.

Symptoms of headaches in a woman
Migraines with more serious symptoms

Migraines are another type of headache experienced by many people. They are a step up from tension and cluster headaches in that they are generally a lot more painful. In fact, migraines can be so bad that you could be unable to work or even get out of bed.

Symptoms can include an intense, throbbing pain, while you may also feel nauseous.

Additionally, if your headache is combined with a high fever and your symptoms persist, this could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, so you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

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How to Treat Headaches

In the majority of cases, most headaches (particularly tension headaches) will disappear on their own without the need for treatment.

If this hasn’t happened, or you’re experiencing a more painful form of headache, such as a migraine, your GP will either recommend an over-the-counter painkiller or stronger prescription medication to deal with the pain.

Your GP might also point out some potential causes of your headaches and suggest some small lifestyle changes that will help you reduce the chance of the problem reoccurring.

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Treatment of headaches with rest

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