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Throbbing headache

I have had a throbbing headache on the left side of my head behind the ear for nearly two weeks. I have consulted the GP and they recommended pain killers for inflammation. This has not helped so far. Should I request for further investigation

13 September 2019

This content was last reviewed in September 2019 by Lane Wells, a registered nurse in our Health at Hand team.

Thank you for contacting us with your question.

Throbbing headaches can have a variety of causes and while anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful with some types of headaches they may not be sufficient to relive the pain by themselves. The first thing to do would be to find out the cause of your headache as this will help to guide any treatment you may need.

Types of headaches

Tension headaches

These are the most common form of headache and can affect either side of the head or both, sufferers can also feel like they have a tight band around their hand.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are rare headaches that appear at the same time each year, usually for around a month or two at a time and can cause severe pain around one area of the head. They also tend to affect the eye causing watering and intense pain and red eye.

Migraine headaches

Migraines cause a severe throbbing pain at the front or side of the head and can be accompanied by visual disturbances nausea and vomiting and also sensitivity to light. They tend to be more severe and intense than tension headaches and many people find they need to rest in bed, sometimes for several days, during an attack.

Hormone headaches in women

These are thought to be related to the hormone balance in women and the combined contraceptive pill, pregnancy and menopause are thought to be triggers.

Headache treatments

Treatments for all the above will vary according to the cause and you can read more about the different types of headache including less common causes of this and treatments for headaches here:

Headache - NHS

Given your symptoms it’s possible you are suffering from a form of migraine or it may just be that without adequate pain relief for your headache it has become worse. This can sometimes happen due to tension in the muscles surrounding an area of pain, which sends further tension and pressure into the head.

Given how long you've been coping with this it would seem sensible to return to your GP, to discuss your symptoms and the need for improved pain relief.

As you don't appear to have experiences these symptoms before, with good pain relief there is every reason to think you will be able to recover.

However, if you find that this headache begins to frequently recurr or doesn’t respond to further treatment, it would be reasonable to ask for a referral to see a specialist, to assess your situation in more detail and advise on a treatment plan for you.

We wish you the best of luck.

Answered by the Health at Hand team.

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