Diagnosis: Why Do I Have A Headache
Before a doctor can start to treat your headache, they will need to understand what is causing your headache. The International Headache Society recognises over 200 headache types, although the two most common types of primary headaches are migraine and tension-type headache . Cluster headache and other trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias are less common, but are extremely painful, and recognising symptoms early is important.
You can use our headache types directory to identify what your symptoms might mean before consulting a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Its helpful to keep a headache diary in the weeks leading up to your appointment, recording the number of headache days, severity, and any relevant symptoms. This will help your doctor look for any patterns or triggers, and will ensure you dont forget to tell them about any specific symptoms.;;
Symptoms of primary headache disorders
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
What Is A Headache
A headache is when you feel pain in the head or face. There are different types of headaches with varying causes, such as:;
- Tension headaches often feel like a dull, aching head pain and tightness across your forehead. These are often caused by stress.
- Migraine headaches feel like intense throbbing in one part of the head. These can also be caused by stress or by strong stimuli in your environment, like bright lights and intense smells.;
- Cluster headaches often manifest as intense pain behind the eye and are similar to migraine headaches.;
- Sinusheadaches often feel like pressure around your forehead, cheeks, and eyes. This is usually a sign that you have some nasal or sinus congestion, and may be a sign of a sinus infection.;
The following are some simple strategies you can try at home to help relieve these types of headaches:
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Spotting The Signs Of Serious Illness
Headaches are extremely common and most of them arent a cause for anxiety.
Occasionally, though, a headache is a symptom of a serious illness, such as meningitis or a brain haemorrhage, and requires urgent medical attention.
Tension headaches are the most common type.
What are the causes?
About three out of four headaches are caused by tension in the scalp or neck muscles due to stress. Tension headaches tend to occur frequently and cause moderate pain, particularly at the back and front of the head. Its often described as a tight band encircling the head.
Other common causes of headaches include hangovers, having irregular meals, long journeys, noise, a stuffy atmosphere, thundery weather, too much sleep, too much excitement, a fever, sinusitis and suffering toothache.
Migraine are one-sided severe headaches with eye symptoms and possibly vomiting. MIgraines can run in families.
Some headaches require urgent medical attention
A severe headache with fever, a stiff neck and rash may be a sign of meningitis, a condition in which the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord become inflamed.
A sudden headache that feels like a blow to the back of the head could be a subarachnoid haemorrhage, in which bleeding occurs between the membranes covering the brain.
In elderly people, a headache with tenderness of the scalp or temple may be due to temporal arteritis, in which blood vessels in the head become inflamed.
What might be done?
Whats the treatment?
How To Get Rid Of A Migraine At Work Or School
If you have a migraine at work or school you need something that can work fast. Youtuber Kamil Wawrzyszko offers a way to get rid of a migraine in two minutes. When you dont have time for home remedies, this method is worth a try.
Check out this short video on Youtube by Kamils View to learn more.
Kamil has you ask yourself three questions about your headache. Answer the questions then ask and answer them again until your migraine is gone. He claims that this technique will work in two minutes or less.
This technique forces you to think about what your migraine is and what it is not. A migraine is not a thing, it is your perception of pain. Theoretically, if your brain cannot physically describe what a migraine is, it should disappear.
My theory is that answering these questions frees your mind of thinking of a migraine is a separate and new problem. It is only your bodys natural response to some form of stress.
Try this technique to clear your mind. The remedies in this article are to help you find and eliminate the source of your migraine. At the very least, find migraine relief and comfort.
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How Are Migraines Treated
Migraines can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen or with prescription medicines from your doctor. When a migraine hits, it may also help to lie down in a dark room and try to sleep.
To prevent migraines, try to avoid things you know can trigger your migraines and try to get regular exercise. Your doctor may also give you medicines to help prevent migraines.
Can Chronic Migraine Be Prevented
Keep a daily headache diary. As soon as you notice an increase in the number of headaches you are having, see your headache specialist. Do not wait until your headaches become a daily occurrence to seek help. It is easier to halt and reverse chronic migraine if caught early.
Look at the risk factors and modify those you can .
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Related: Sneaky Headache Triggers To Avoid
“Rebound headaches occur when certain medications used to treat the acute symptoms of a headache are used too often,” says Gupta. They can present as any of the above headaches, though most commonly strike in the form of a tension or migraine headache. Halting pain meds or slowly tapering them off are the most effective ways to nix rebound headaches, says Franc. And if you’re concerned about the withdrawal effect, your doc can help you bridge the gap using preventative medications or other treatments.
Soothe Pain With A Cold Compress
Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.
Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain .
In one study in 28 women, applying a cold gel pack to the head significantly reduced migraine pain .
To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of the neck, head or temples for headache relief.
Coenzyme Q10 is a substance produced naturally by the body that helps turn food into energy and functions as a powerful antioxidant .
Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements may be an effective and natural way to treat headaches.
For example, one study in 80 people demonstrated that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 supplements per day reduced migraine frequency, severity and length .
Another study including 42 people who experienced frequent migraines found that three 100-mg doses of CoQ10 throughout the day helped decrease migraine frequency and migraine-related symptoms like nausea (
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Can I Prevent Chronic Migraines
Taking care of yourself every day may prevent your migraines from turning into a long-term problem. For instance:
Catch some ZZZs. Not getting enough sleep can trigger a migraine. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of rest each night.
Watch your diet. While caffeine can soothe your pain, stopping it suddenly is a common cause of migraine. Other common food triggers include MSG , nitrates in cured meats like hot dogs, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol.
Manage your stress. Tension and worry are common triggers. Try to carve out a few minutes each day to do something you love, or learn to breathe deeply when youâre in the midst of a crisis. You might join a support group or talk to a counselor.
Have a meal plan. Fasting and skipping meals can trigger headaches. Try to eat around the same times each day.
Get moving. Exercise is a good way to ease your anxiety and stress. It can also help you get to, and stay at, a healthy weight. Since obesity raises your risk of chronic migraines, getting in shape is crucial.
Know your triggers. Not all migraines result from triggers. But if yours do, that set of triggers is unique to you. To learn what yours are, keep a headache diary. Each time you have an attack, write down details about what you were doing, how long the headache lasted, and how you felt before it started. This will help you begin to notice patterns — and avoid your triggers.
Migraine Research Foundation: âMigraine Facts,â âThe Impact of Hormones.â
Write Numbers With Your Nose
Lynne Robinson says: This simple pilates exercise can help mobilise the neck and ease some of the more common types of headache, such as those caused by tension.
Lie on a mat on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and parallel. Take a few breaths into the back and sides of your ribcage.
Now imagine an upright figure eight and draw the shape with your nose. Repeat three times, then change direction.
Then imagine the figure eight on its side. Trace again with your nose three times before changing direction. Finish with a gentle chin tuck, drawing your chin down and lengthening the back of your neck. Keep your head in contact with mat.
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Is Diet Coke Bad For Migraines
No scientific studies have proved that aspartame or diet sodas in general cause headaches, but a review of evidence published in The Clinical Journal of Pain in 2009 suggests that large amounts of the sweetenersuch as that in five or more diet soda drinkscould trigger or make headaches worse in people who are already
Summary Of Chronic Migraine
Migraine is considered chronic when people have 15 or more headache days per month, with at least 8 of those days meeting criteria for migraine. Chronic migraine can be a very disabling condition. Development of chronic migraine has been associated with a number of potentially treatable risk factors. Chronic migraine treatment should primarily focus on prevention through use of medication and non-medication preventive strategies as well as addressing identified risk factors.
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When Should I Be Worried About A Migraine
The following headache symptoms mean you should get medical help right away: A sudden, new, severe headache that comes with: Weakness, dizziness, sudden loss of balance or falling, numbness or tingling, or cant move your body. Trouble with speech, confusion, seizures, personality changes, or inappropriate behavior.
Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee
Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.
Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .
It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .
However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.
Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .
Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.
Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .
Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .
Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (
Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.
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The Headache Or Main Attack Stage
This stage involves moderate to severe head pain. The headache is typically throbbing and is made worse by movement. It is usually on one side of the head, especially at the start of an attack. However, you can get pain on both sides, or all over the head.
Nausea and vomiting can happen at this stage, and you may feel sensitive to light, sound, smell and movement. Painkillers work best when taken early in this stage.
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Headache Vitamin D Deficiency
A great example of getting to the root cause of migraines occurred with one of the boys friends back in grade school.
Finn suffered severe life-altering headaches at age ten.
His mother took him to his pediatrician who found that his vitamin D levels had bottomed out. He was suffering from a severe vitamin D deficiency.
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What Is A Migraine
Common painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin, and ibuprofen may be used for quick relief. Some natural home remedies may also help in symptomatic relief.
There are no long-term complications of migraines, but it greatly affects your quality of life during an episode. There is no structural abnormality of the brain or blood vessels. Migraine may be associated with a very small risk of stroke, but it is very rare.
Should I Go To Work The Day After A Migraine
When youre recovering from migraine, try to give yourself time to rest and recuperate. If possible, gradually ease back into your regular schedule. For example, if youre returning to work after taking time off due to migraine, it might help to continue with limited work hours for a couple of days.
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Common Causes Of Headaches
The best way to get rid of a headache quickly may depend on whats causing it and what type of headache it is. A primary headache is caused by overactivity or problems with the pain-sensitive structures in your head,;according to the Mayo Clinic. Common types of primary headaches include migraine attacks;and tension headaches.
A less common type of primary headache is a cluster headache, which comes on suddenly, almost always affects only one side of the head, and is accompanied by a runny nose and tearing eye on the same side of the head as the headache. The pain of a cluster headache is severe and lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours, when untreated. For most people, cluster headaches occur in a series, or in clusters, lasting weeks or months, separated by remission periods of months or years.
A secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can trigger pain-sensitive nerves in the head. There are many conditions that can cause a secondary headache, from a sinus infection to a brain aneurysm to;hangovers;to;COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
While a hangover or a headache caused by a sinus infection or by COVID-19 may respond to the same pain-relieving treatments as a tension headache, a brain aneurysm, or other severe headaches associated with neurologic changes such as weakness or loss of consciousness, for example, are medical emergencies that you shouldnt attempt to treat on your own.
Treatments For Silent Migraine
It can be a little trickier to treat silent migraine, if only because theres no pain symptom that can be handled with an OTC pain reliever. Other than that, however, treatment of silent migraine isnt much different than it isfor traditional migraine .
First up is sensory deprivation: lying in a dark, quiet room can work wonders for soothing the sensory overload that may have triggered your migraine in the first place. If you can keep liquids down, be sure to hydrate since dehydration can worsen your symptoms.
You can also try alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and vitamin supplementation. Magnesium, for example, has been classified by theAmerican Migraine Foundation as a supplement that is probably effective and generally considered safe for most people to use as a preventive treatment.
Finally, Dr. Segil says there are two pharmaceutical approaches to treating migraine: daily medications, which are taken to prevent episodes, and rescue medications, which are taken to relieve symptoms during an episode. Typically, doctors recommend using a daily medication if you have 14 or more migraine days per month. If you do not need daily preventive medication, then you can use rescue medication with symptoms.;
While both of these types of medications can be used to address silent migraine in most cases, Dr. Segil warns that hemiplegic migraine is often handled differently because of its stroke-like symptoms.
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