Nothing can damage your productive day quite like a headache. One moment you’re checking off task after task, and the next, you’re lying in bed with the shades drawn. Those who suffer often from headaches understand how powerless they can make you feel, especially when you don’t understand them.

Unlike what some people believe, not every headache is a “migraine.” In fact, there are several types of headaches which require different strategies for managing pain and symptoms. Although some symptoms associated with specific types of headaches overlap, recognizing the features of each can make them much easier to manage, and can give doctors the information they need to determine the best method of treatment.

Sinus Headaches

Pain associated with sinus headaches is generally location specific. Our sinus cavities are above the cheeks and behind the eyes, so when these become inflamed, causing headaches and a runny nose, the pain can be described as a pressure-like sensation that is constant. Leaning forward can make the pain worse. These types of headaches occur less often, and are usually associated with a sinus infection.

Sinus headaches are relatively rare. People who think they have sinus headaches often have migraines.

Migraine Headaches

Most commonly, migraine headaches are one-sided (unilateral), and the pain is described as throbbing or pulsing that worsens with physical activity such as walking. Pain can range from moderate to severe, and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. Migraines can last from a few hours to a few days, and the cause of migraines is heavily disputed. Some believe that it can be caused by abnormal brain activity triggered by things like red wine, alcohol, changes in sleep patterns, or certain foods. Others believe that conditions such as TMJ disorder could be linked to migraines through trigeminal nerve stimulation.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are considered one of the most common headaches that occur. Described as a squeezing sensation that is “vice-like,” these types of headaches don’t include throbbing or pulsing sensations, and don’t become worse with exercise. Generally, tension headaches are located in the forehead, and are caused by tension in the neck, scalp, or back muscles. When these muscles contract, they can stimulate a headache.

How to Treat Headaches

If you’re having an unusual amount of tension or migraine headaches, it’s possible your dentist can help. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ has been known to increase the likelihood that these headaches can occur, because of its unique relationship with the jaw and surrounding muscular structures. Tension present in the jaw can carry over and cause headaches, and jaw pain.

If you’ve been experiencing other symptoms such as lockjaw, it’s time to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Adam Hahn in Columbia, SC has experienced helping people with all stages and types of TMJ. He can help you, too. Please call or email Smile Columbia Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with either of our dentists.