There’s one thing you need to know about headaches – it’s probably not a tumour. “Many patients worry, but it’s unlikely to be a brain tumour,” says GP Dr Ginni Mansberg. Brain tumours tend to manifest with symptoms like strange feelings in your arms or legs, or sudden clumsiness. So now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s why your head might be banging.

Tension headaches
Mansberg says: “Many people carry stress in the neck, back and shoulders. The trapezius muscle connects the back and head, so tension in the neck and shoulders can cause head spasms. This is the most common sort of headache.”
Symptom: Tight-band feeling around the head.
Possible fix: Stretch your neck by holding your head to one side, then the other, and also move it in circles throughout the day.

Hormonal headaches
Mansberg says: “Sensitivity to changes in hormones and fluid retention can cause headaches in some women.”
Symptoms: Regularly occurs right before your period; feels similar to tension headaches.
Possible fix: Lessen occurrences through the pill. Skip two period out of every three by going straight onto your next set of active pills. This will cut down hormonal fluctuations by two-thirds.

Sinus headaches
Mansberg says: “For some, the holes that drain their sinuses are very small, which means it doewsn’t take much for pressure to build up.”
Symptoms: Feeling blocked; unable to blow nose; if infected, you may have green mucus and also feel tender or swollen in the face.
Possible fix: These sorts of headaches are either caused by a cold – which will pass in time – or allergies. If you think you might have a sinus infection, see your GP.

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Migraines
Mansberg says: “You can’t go to work with a true migraine. You’re going to be locked in a dark room thinking your head is about to fall off.”
Symptoms: Pain on one side of the head; before the migraine starts, you see flashing lights, zigzags or blobs; nausea and vomitting; bright lights and loud noises feel painful.
Possible fix: Avoid migraine triggers, like alcohol, certain medications (such as the pill), MSG and stress.

If your headache is getting progressively worse, see your GP. Another danger sign is if your headache is there first thing in the morning  this can be a sign of raised intracranial pressure, which can be caused by potentially lethal diseases like meningitis or a brain tumour. Get it checked out!

Image: Wavebreak Media Ltd / 123RF.com
Text: Nicole Elphick