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Headaches and Migraines

Experiencing pressure or pain in your head usually means you are having a headache or a migraine, but it can be difficult to determine which you are experiencing. Having the ability to recognize the difference between a traditional headache and a migraine headache can allow for faster pain relief through the appropriate treatments.

Headaches

A pain in your head that results from pressure and aching is a typical symptom of a headache. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. 

Some types of headaches that occur are:

  • Tension headaches – headache that can be triggered from stress, muscle strain, or anxiety in some
  • Cluster headaches – headaches that come in succession then followed by a headache-free period
  • Sinus headaches – headaches that often occur with a sinus infection and often times associated with stuffy nose, cough and facial pressure

Migraines

These types of headaches are often classified as severe, intense and often have accompanying symptoms in addition to head pain and pressure. Symptoms associated with a migraine headache include:

  • Nausea
  • Pain behind one eye or ear
  • Pain in the temples
  • Seeing spots or flashing lights
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Vomiting

These type of headaches will typically affect only one side of the head, but can affect both sides of the head. Another key difference between a migraine and a traditional headache is that a migraine headache can cause intense pain that may prevent someone from performing normal tasks.

People exhibiting a migraine may also exhibit a migraine with aura. An aura is  a sensation that can occur prior to a migraine and may last anywhere form 10-30 minutes prior to a migraine and can include the following:

  • Feeling less mentally alert or having trouble thinking
  • Seeing flashing lights or unusual lines
  • Tingling or numbness in the face or hands

Some individuals who suffer from migraines may exhibit what is called prodrome phase ,which is where symptoms prior to a migraine may occur a few days before the onset of the migraine. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • frequent yawning
  • Irritability
  • Neck stiffness
  • Unusual food cravings

Treatment of Headaches

For regular headaches there are many over the counter medications that can help relieve the pain associated with a headache such as:

  • acetaminophen
  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen

Medications are not the only solution to relieving pain. Given that many headaches are stress induced, it is important to relax and allow for the headache to gradually reduce and go away.

Treatment of Migraines

One of the best methods to treat a migraine is to try to eliminate those things that may cause them.  For example,make changes to your diet if there are foods that are known to cause headaches, such as alcohol or caffeine. Sometimes certain prescription medication can cause pain and discomfort. Consult with your medical provider about stopping this medication or possibly identifying alternative medications. If you are exhibiting a migraine with severe and unbearable pain please visit your local emergency department.

Understanding and Identifying Early

As noted, headaches can range from being very mild and inconvenient to severe and debilitating iBeing able to identify and treat your headaches can empower you to take the necessary steps to engage in headache and migraine prevention.

 

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