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Headaches 101


What’s a headache?

It’s estimated that 95% of people will suffer from a headache during their lifetime. Watch as Charles Pollack, MD, PhD explains the three types of headaches and ways to relieve them.


Tension Headaches

Over 95% of the population report having tension headaches. Tension headaches can be triggered by physical, psychological and environmental factors. Many researchers believe a tension headache can result when the head, neck or face muscles contract but do not relax. They remain tense or continue to spasm. This compresses blood vessels in the affected muscles and reduces the blood supply there. The resulting pain:

  • Typically last several hours
  • Usually affects the front, top or sides of the head
  • Can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Can cause irritability and disturb concentration
  • Can cause mild sensitivity to light or noise


Cluster Headaches

Cluster Headaches are very severe, relatively rare and must be treated by a physician. Advil is not approved to treat cluster headaches. Cluster headaches recur in groups or cycles (clusters) and affect more men than women. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden, debilitating pain on one side of the head
  • Watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose on the same side of the face
  • Restlessness, inability to get comfortable


Migraine Headaches

There are about 20 million migraine attacks happening every day. ‡ Migraines are a common type of headache characterized by a throbbing pain that is usually felt on only one side of the head that can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. In addition to nausea and sensitivity to light, symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paleness
  • Fatigue, dizziness
  • Visual disturbances such as bright, flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines (aura)
  • Headaches are among the most common pain-related conditions, with one half to three quarters of the world's adults experiencing a migraine or other type of headache in the past year.*

*World Health Organization, Lifting the Burden. Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization; May 2011. ‡


What Helps Headaches?

There are many simple things you can do at home to help relieve your headache, whether it’s a tension headache, cluster headache, or migraine. If you’re experiencing light sensitivity, try laying down in a dark room and wearing sunglasses if you have to go outside. Take notice of your computer and phone screen—are they set to maximum brightness? If so, try dimming these screens or adding a filter that creates warmer light. If you’re wearing a tight ponytail or hat, loosen your hair or take the hat off to relieve the external pressure on your scalp. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid consuming any alcoholic beverages in order to avoid dehydration. Many find that hot and cold packs help headache symptoms—try placing a cold pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel on your forehead for a migraine or heating pad or warm towel for tension headaches or sinus headaches.i Try to relax by doing some simple stretches, meditation or a yoga routine.

If these holistic methods are still not giving you the pain relief you need, you can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Advil Ibuprofen Tablets to get temporary relief until your headache passes—that’s what we’re here for.



i. Mayo Clinic. Migraines: Simple steps to head off the pain. Accessed 07/17/20. Referenced text highlighted on source PDF.