In Rare Cases Constant Headaches Could Be A Sign Of A Brain Tumor
Googling your headache symptoms may result in a self-diagnosis of brain tumor. A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells on your brain, and they can be either cancerous or benign the Mayo Clinic says. Rest assured: They’re rare, so chances are you don’t have one. But its a possibility, and something you don’t want to miss, Dr. Hutchinson says. “If a patients had a regular headache pattern and it hasnt changed, it’s usually not a red flag,” she says. But if headaches are a new thing for you, are the most severe you’ve ever experienced, or are changing or worsening over time, these are signs your doctor may order a brain scan. But if you’re ever worried about what’s causing your headaches, it’s worth discussing with your doctor.
Diagnosis Of Severe Headaches
The doctor will first take a detailed medical history and ask several questions regarding your headache and conduct a physical examination including a complete neurological evaluation.
The doctor may also conduct certain diagnostic tests if they think there is an underlying condition causing the headache. These tests include MRI, head CT, sinus X-Rays, etc.
Treatment Of Severe Headaches
The type of headache treatment you need will depend on a lot of things, including the type of headache you get, how often, and its cause.
Most headaches, that arent caused by an underlying condition, can be treated with over the counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
If the medication isnt working, there are several other treatments like:
- Biofeedback- a relaxation technique for pain management.
- Cold or hot therapy- involves applying a heating pad or ice pack to your head for 5-10 minutes multiple times a day.
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For Someone Whose Migraines Are Triggered By Stress How Do They Deal With That During The Unsettling Times Of A Pandemic
We’re all weathering the storm and each person’s weathering it differently in terms of the degree of stress they’re facing. It could be a family members illness, or themselves, financial stressors, etc. Theres a lot on people’s plates. Managing stress levels and focusing on mindfulness can be extremely important in that setting. In the beginning of this in March, I personally was very, very stressed about the pandemic itself. I have several family members very important to me, who are immune compromised. So, my profound level of worry was beyond a normal stressor, I recognized that was a toxic stress level. I started doing more practice of yoga and of mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, because I knew that I needed to do that.
Sometimes that’s not enough. Although I think that’s an important first mainstay of treatment, we need to recognize when we need to treat patients with medication and with psychotherapy to help. If the stressors are the biggest cause of the uptick of headache, addressing stress and mental health, rather than just throwing more medications at the headache, is going to be extremely important. As with any health condition, treating the underlying cause of uptick is more important than putting a bandage on it.
Diseases Caused By Insect Bites
Sudden severe headaches are one of the symptoms in diseases caused by certain insect-bites. Examples of such insect-borne diseases include malaria, dengue, African sleeping sickness , typhus, tick fever, and poliomyelitis. Other associated symptoms may include fever , vomiting, rashes, fatigue, muscular pain across the body, and sore throat.
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Migraine Treatment And Home Remedies
There’s no cure for migraine headaches. But many drugs can treat or even prevent them. Common migraine treatments include:
You may ease migraine symptoms by:
- Resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room
- Putting a cool compress or ice pack on your forehead
- Drinking plenty of liquids
Complementary and alternative treatments
Some people get relief with therapies they use in addition to or instead of traditional medical treatment. These are called complementary or alternative treatments. For migraine, they include:
- Biofeedback. This helps you take note of stressful situations that could trigger symptoms. If the headache begins slowly, biofeedback can stop the attack before it becomes full-blown.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy . A specialist can teach you how actions and thoughts affect how you sense pain.
- Supplements. Research has found that some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can prevent or treat migraines. These include riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin. Butterbur may head off migraines, but it can also affect your liver enzymes.
- Body work. Physical treatments like chiropractic, massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and craniosacral therapy might ease headache symptoms.
Talk to your doctor before trying any complementary or alternative treatments.
When Should I Call The Doctor
If you think your headaches may be migraines, you’ll want to see a doctor to treat them and learn ways to try to avoid getting the headaches in the first place. Sometimes relaxation exercises or changes in diet or sleeping habits are all that’s needed. But if needed, a doctor also can prescribe medicine to help control the headaches.
You’ll also want to see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms as well as a headache:
- changes in vision, such as blurriness or seeing spots
- tingling sensations
- skin rash
- weakness, dizziness, or difficulty walking or standing
- neck pain or stiffness
If you do see a doctor for headaches, he or she will probably want to do an exam and get your to help figure out what might be causing them.
The doctor may ask you:
- how severe and frequent your headaches are
- when they happen
- about any medicine you take
- about any allergies you have
- if you’re feeling stressed
- about your diet, habits, sleeping patterns, and what seems to help or worsen the headaches
The doctor may also do blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems.
Sometimes doctors will refer people with headaches they think might be migraines or a symptom of a more serious problem to a specialist like a , a doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system.
It’s very rare that headaches are a sign of something serious. But see a doctor if you get headaches a lot or have a headache that:
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How Many Types Of Headaches Exist
Itâs hard to say how many types of headaches there are because theyâre often symptoms of other conditions. In that vein, we can divide types of headaches into two categories: primary and secondary.
Primary headaches are not caused by other underlying conditions or illnesses, according to Mayo Clinic, but by overactivity or chemical changes in the brain, the nerves, blood vessels, or muscles in or around your head. Secondary headaches, on the other hand, result from other issues, like viral or bacterial infections, injuries or traumas, and dehydration, to name a few.
In other words, secondary headaches are a side effect of another condition, while primary headaches are the condition.
Migraine attacks are considered primary headaches, along with the following headaches listed in IDHC-3, the International Headache Societyâs officially recognized list of headaches:
Tension headaches typically come on slowly and involve mild or moderate pain that feels like a vice or band wrapping around your head. Unlike a migraine, tension headaches usually hurt on both sides of your head, and donât bring along telltale migraine symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light, aura, or the prodrome stage.
Tension headaches can be caused by a variety of triggers, according to Medline Plus, such as:
Besides these two common kinds of non-migraine headaches, the ICHD-3 lists several other types of primary headaches:
You Drink Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine causes vasoconstriction in your blood vessels, meaning they get a little narrower. If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks every day, your body gets used to it, Dr. Hutchinson explains. So when you skip it one day, your blood vessels don’t become constricted and can make your head hurt. It becomes a vicious cycle, slugging back a mug to find relief, and just further deepening your need for caffeine. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic says that adults can safely consume up to 400 milliliters of caffeine per day , butkeeping in mind that everyones tolerance is differentafter that, your body might begin to rebel.
Fix it:“It’s unrealistic to tell all headache patients to avoid caffeine,” Dr. Hutchinson says. Instead, she recommends moderationa maximum of two caffeinated drinks in one dayto avoid that withdrawal headache when you go without.
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How To Shorten Your Migraine Attack
If you recognize the signs that a migraine attack may be coming on, you may be able to reduce the amount of time it lasts, says Spears. Often the person with migraine doesnt always recognize the prodrome phase, but someone close to them a spouse or family member may pick up on it, he says.
Spears offers a few tips to potentially reduce the length of your migraine attack:
- Aggressively hydrate. Drinking a lot of water is usually helpful.
- Limit your physical activity. If possible, sit or lie down somewhere.
- Avoid stimulating environments. Go to a dark, quiet place.
Some people find that relaxation techniques, such as meditation or massage, will help release the tension they feel in their face, jaw, or neck. If you can release tension with these techniques, your migraine attack may not be as severe or last as long. Others find that putting a cold compress on their temples will help relieve their migraine symptoms and keep their migraine from lasting as long, Mauskop says.
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?
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Migraine Causes And Symptoms
A migraine has a usual cause of environmental and genetic factors. About two-third of migraineurs have a Migraine in their genetics. The nerve and blood vessels of the brain are believed to be involved in migraine.
A migraine headache is a result of unusual changes within the brain. It causes severe head pain that is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, or smells.
Common Symptoms Include
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- When usually severe pain happens on one side of the head that some individuals described as pounding
Most typical migraines are distinguished by the fact that whether its accompanied by the aura or not.
What Is The Burden Due To Headache Disorders
Not only is headache painful, but it is also disabling. In the Global Burden of Disease Study, updated in 2013, migraine on its own was found to be the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability . Headache disorders collectively were third highest.
Headache disorders impose a recognizable burden on sufferers including sometimes substantial personal suffering, impaired quality of life and financial cost. Repeated headache attacks, and often the constant fear of the next one, damage family life, social life and employment. The long-term effort of coping with a chronic headache disorder may also predispose the individual to other illnesses. For example, anxiety and depression are significantly more common in people with migraine than in healthy individuals.
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
The Overuse Of Medication
Ironically, taking medication for chronic headaches can actually cause the recurrence of them. This type of headache is known as a rebound headache and is most often caused by taking certain medications daily to relieve headaches and then stopping them abruptly. Medications such as:
- Opiate painkillers like hydrocodone or tramadol
- Tricyclic antidepressants including Elavil
- Migraine medications called triptans including Sumatriptan or Rizatriptan
- NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium
- Caffeine or combination medications containing caffeine including the prescriptions Cafergot and Fioricet as well as over-the-counter combination medicines like Excedrin Migraine
Medication overuse headaches are typically the result of using headache relief medications like the above for longer than 10 days. Treatment usually involved tapering the medication until it is discontinued, at which point the rebound headaches subside, and the normal headache pattern returns.
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What Triggers A Migraine
Some people find that migraines are triggered by certain things, including:
- missing meals this is the strongest dietary trigger
- eating certain foods, such as cheese, chocolate, citrus, red wine and food additives
- altered sleep patterns too much or too little sleep
- changes in the weather
- hormonal changes, such as menstruation, and the oral contraceptive pill for women
- alcoholic drinks
What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine
The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.
Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.
People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.
It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.
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What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines
Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.
Immediate Action Required: Phone 999 If:
- your headache occurs suddenly and is very severe it may feel like a blinding pain
- your headache occurs after a severe head injury
You have an extremely painful headache and:
- slurred speech or memory loss
- a very high temperature, feel hot and shivery, and have a stiff neck or a rash
- drowsiness or confusion
- severe pain and redness in one of your eyes
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Youre Dealing With Hormonal Issues Like Menstruation
Thanks to the drop in estrogen right before menstruation, many people experience PMS-related headaches. In fact, menstruation is one of the biggest migraine triggers for people who have periods.
But it’s not the only time a change in estrogen levels can cause a headacheboth perimenopause and postpartum periods are marked by a significant drop in estrogen, and as a result, often come with headaches. Pregnancy, too, affects estrogen levels, so you may notice that your headaches worsen during this time, the Mayo Clinic says. “Any time of hormonal change is a vulnerable time for headaches,” Dr. Hutchinson says.
Fix it: If you notice that your headaches appear to be cyclical and coincide with your period, its worth bringing this up with your doctor, who may suggest going on hormonal birth control or switching your current birth control.
As the Mayo Clinic explains, hormonal birth control can have an effect on your headache patterns and for some people, hormonal contraception may make headaches less frequent and intense because they reduce the drop in estrogen that happens during your menstrual cycle.
For short-term headache relief around your period, typical headache remedies can help, like using ice or a cold compress, practicing relaxation techniques, or taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication.
How Prevalent Are Migraines
Migraines are about three times more common in women than men, and may affect more than 12 percent of the U.S. adult population. Migraines often run in families, and can start as early as elementary school but most often in early adulthood. They often fade away later in life, but can strike at any time. The most common cause of recurring, disabling headache pain, migraines are also the most common underlying cause of disabling chronic, daily headache pain. While migraines are the No. 1 reason that patients see a neurologist, most cases are handled by primary care physicians.
Things that can make the headaches more likely to occur include:
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