An occasional headache is normal for most people, and this symptom usually isn’t enough to consult a doctor for treatment. In many cases, the headache happens because you are tired, dehydrated, or under the weather. Taking care of overall physical health can be beneficial to alleviate an infrequent headache.
But some people experience chronic, debilitating headaches that interfere with daily living. If you’re experiencing regular pain, then it might be time to work with a team of medical professionals to identify the best treatment solutions.
A general practitioner doesn’t offer the specialized services that are needed for an accurate diagnosis. When you talk to your family doctor, you will likely be referred to speak to an ENT and/or neurologist.
Identifying the Type of Headache
The key to effective treatment is to identify the underlying cause of the headache. Yes, the symptoms can be reduced with pain medication… but the headaches will continue to recur if the cause isn’t resolved. These are some of the most common types of headaches and possible treatments that can help to alleviate the pain:
- Tension Headaches: If you feel like the pain is showing up as a band around the middle of your head, then it could be a tension headache. These types of headaches are most common in people experiencing high levels of stress. Tension headaches can be chronic, or they might happen only when you are experiencing a lack of sleep or have been eating an unhealthy diet. Treatment recommendations often include lifestyle changes, such as minimizing stress, improving sleep patterns, changing your diet, massage to alleviate neck/shoulder tension, or using over-the-counter pain medications.
- Migraines: These headaches are often recurring and can cause a person to struggle with daily activities. For many patients, migraines include a headache, along with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, or dizziness. The symptoms are severe enough that it is necessary to take time off work. Prescription medications can be used for pain relief. Patients who experience chronic migraines sometimes benefit from preventive medications.
- Sinus Headaches: When a headache is caused by sinus pain, then an ENT is the right doctor to visit. Sinus headaches usually include pressure in the face and forehead, along with throbbing in the head. Do you notice that the pain worsens when you lean over or bend forward? Then the headache could be caused by a sinus infection or sinusitis. Treating the sinus infection is the key to eliminate the headache symptoms.
How an ENT Can Help with Headaches
When the headache is related to conditions that affect the ears, nose, and throat, then an ENT is an excellent resource to look for the right treatment plan. An ENT can order a CT scan to get a closer look at the nasal passages and sinuses to identify if any blockages are contributing to the headaches.
Headaches often occur as a symptom of other health conditions, such as ear infections, tonsillitis, sinusitis, and more. Alleviating the root cause will minimize all symptoms, and the headaches will often go away.
For example, if someone has seasonal allergies that increase the risk of sinus headaches, then treatment will be focused on managing allergies and preventing sinus infections. As a result, the occurrence of headaches will decrease.
If it’s discovered that the ears, nose, and throat are not playing a role, then it might be recommended that you talk to a neurologist to explore other diagnosis possibilities.
An ENT Can Assist in Identifying the Causes of Headaches
Part of the treatment process is to identify triggers that might be contributing to your headaches. A headache trigger could include factors such as:
- Environmental Triggers: A variety of things in your environment could affect the development of a headache, such as noise, bright lights, odors, or excessive sensory stimuli. Some people are affected by weather changes.
- Stress Triggers: Stress plays a more significant role in headaches than many people realize. It is common for headaches to increase when someone is tired, fatigued, hungry, or physically strained (such as after an exercise session).
- Food Triggers: Your diet can play a significant role in the management of headaches. Food allergies can cause headache symptoms. Additionally, byproducts of fermented foods can result in headaches, so you might need to stay away from aged cheeses, red wine, or yogurt. Some people are sensitive to food additives, such as caffeine, MSG, or preservatives (such as nitrates).
- Inner Ear Triggers: Certain types of inner ear disease can increase the likelihood of headaches. An ENT can help with the identification of ear diseases that could be triggering migraines.
Medical tests can be done to rule out certain causes of headaches. It can also be helpful for you to keep a headache diary, which might uncover triggers that are causing your headaches. Make a note of headache symptoms that are experienced, as well as any triggers that were present 24 hours before the symptoms started. This information can be shared with your doctor to identify any patterns that might be occurring.
Consult with an Experienced ENT
At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, our first goal is to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Once the headache cause has been identified, then we can design a comprehensive treatment plan that supports the health of your ear, nose, and throat issues that might be contributing to the headaches.
When you are ready to talk to an ENT in the Denton or Dallas area, then Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is here to help. We invite you to contact us for an exam at one of our nearby offices in Frisco or Plano, TX: (972) 596-4005