How Are Secondary Headaches Diagnosed
If there is time, the diagnosis of secondary headache begins with a complete patient history followed by a physical examination and laboratory and radiology tests as appropriate.
However, some patients present in crisis with a decreased level of consciousness or unstable vital signs due to the underlying cause of the headache. In these situations, the health care professional may decide to treat a specific cause without waiting for tests to confirm the diagnosis.
For example, a patient with headache, fever, stiff neck, and confusion may have meningitis. Since meningitis can be rapidly fatal, antibiotic therapy may be started before blood tests and a lumbar puncture are performed to confirm the diagnosis. It may be that another diagnosis ultimately is found, for example, a brain tumor or subarachnoid hemorrhage, but the benefit of early antibiotics outweighs the risk of not giving them promptly.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are headaches that come in groups separated by pain-free periods of months or years. A patient may experience a headache on a daily basis for weeks or months and then be pain-free for years. This type of headache affects men more frequently. They often begin in adolescence but can extend into middle age.
- During the period in which the cluster headaches occur, pain typically occurs once or twice daily, but some patients may experience pain more than twice daily.
- Each episode of pain lasts from 30 to 90 minutes.
- Attacks tend to occur at about the same time every day and often awaken the patient at night from a sound sleep.
- The pain typically is excruciating and located around or behind one eye.
- Some patients describe the pain as feeling like a hot poker in the eye. The affected eye may become red, inflamed, and watery.
- The nose on the affected side may become congested and runny.
Unlike people with migraine headaches, those with cluster headaches tend to be restless. They often pace the floor and/or bang their heads against a wall. People with cluster headaches can be driven to desperate measures, including suicidal thoughts.
What Is A Headache
Headache is defined as pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the skull or the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain . The thin layer of tissue that surrounds bones, muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears, as well as thin tissues that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord , arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated and cause a headache. The pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, intermittent, mild, or intense.
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What Are Headache Disorders
Headache disorders, characterized by recurrent headache, are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. Headache itself is a painful and disabling feature of a small number of primary headache disorders, namely migraine, tension-type headache, and cluster headache. Headache can also be caused by or occur secondarily to a long list of other conditions, the most common of which is medication-overuse headache.
Is Your Headache A Sign Of Something Serious
Most headaches are not serious, but seeking help for those that are could save your life.
Jamie Grill Atlas/Stocksy
“I thought it was just my sinuses that hurt, Billie says. But it didn’t get any better, and it was different from the headaches I usually got. My face hurt so much I didn’t even want to brush my teeth. So my husband called the doctor, and he told us to come in right away. Turns out I had giant cell arteritis . If I had waited, the doctor said I might have had a stroke.”
Billie’s story serves as a warning that sometimes a headache is more than just a headache. In fact, a headache can be an early warning sign of more complicated and serious health issues such as stroke, infection, or high blood pressure.
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What Happens To Your Brain During A Migraine
But during a migraine, these stimuli feel like an all-out assault. The result: The brain produces an outsize reaction to the trigger, its electrical system firing on all cylinders. This electrical activity causes a change in blood flow to the brain, which in turn affects the brains nerves, causing pain.
How Common Are Ocular Migraines
They are more common in women and have a genetic link to them.
Its always more important to focus on the epigenetic and exposomic links because you can change those and they will affect your health far more.
Below is a great video representation of the migraine aura as it grows.
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Could The Vaccine Cause A Migraine Attack
The COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for the majority of adults, and there is currently no evidence to suggest that getting the COVID-19 vaccine causes a migraine attack. However, two common side effects of the vaccine are headache and nausea. Talk with your doctor before you receive the vaccine, and make a treatment plan in case you experience a headache or any other side effects.;
Are Frequent Migraines Serious
Most people who are prone to migraines get a painful attack once or twice a month. But if you have the condition known as chronic migraine, you get headaches much more often 15 or more days a month for at least 3 months.. These frequent and severe attacks can make living a normal life a challenge.
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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.
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 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.
Precipitated By Valsalva Maneuver
The Valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique that your doctor may use to rule out whats called a posterior fossa lesion or tumor. The posterior fossa is the small space in the skull near the brain stem and cerebellum. Other symptoms of this type of tumor are drowsiness, imbalance, nausea, and vomiting, according to MedlinePlus.
To perform the Valsalva maneuver, breathe out strongly through your mouth, pinch your nose shut and press the air out like you are blowing up a balloon.
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Medications For Migraine Management
The American Headache Society recommends a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , triptans, and antiemetics to treat acute migraines, and these medications can be continued throughout an infection with COVID-19.;;
At the start of the pandemic, there was a concern that NSAIDs may be dangerous during an active coronavirus infection. In March 2020, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement saying that there was no known evidence connecting NSAIDs with poorer COVID outcomes.;
Opioid medications such as oxycodone or morphine are not recommended for migraine use, even during a coronavirus infection. Opioids can lead to rebound headaches and make getting your migraines under control much more challenging.
If you receive regular Botox injections for the prevention of migraines, talk with your doctor about how to proceed. Many of these appointments were canceled at the beginning of the pandemic due to national stay-at-home orders.
When To Consult Your Doctor
When migraine becomes a part of daily life, its easy to take the pain and discomfort for granted, imagining everything is part of the condition.
However, there are certain situations where it is advisable to consult your doctor:
- If you notice a sudden, significant increase in your migraine frequency or a change in its characteristics or symptoms. Over time, most people know what to expect from their migraines and can tell if something new or different happens.
- If there is a change in your aura symptoms, for instance if it lasts longer than 60 minutes or does not resolve completely. Common aura symptoms include visual disturbances or flashing lights in the eyes, or a tingling sensation in the face or limbs. Some people experience dizziness, nausea, or a feeling of vertigo. Whilst all these are quite common, if you experience anything that worries you such as difficulty in walking or feeling unusual weakness in one side of your body, you should see your doctor.
Knowing your own condition and symptoms is the surest way to monitor for changes. When you notice them, especially if the change is for the worse, consulting your specialist;is your best course of action so you can find the best way forward under the new circumstances.
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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
What Are The Treatments For Migraine
There is no absolute cure for migraine. However, lots of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms of a migraine attack.
When a migraine attack occurs, most people find that lying down in a quiet, dark room is helpful. Sleeping can also help. Some people find that their symptoms die down after they have vomited .
Most people affected by migraine will already have tried paracetamol, aspirin and perhaps;anti-inflammatory drugs;such as ibuprofen before they seek advice from their doctor. If ordinary painkillers alone are not relieving your symptoms, your GP might prescribe you a;triptan; to be taken in addition to over-the-counter painkillers . Triptans are available in different forms to suit individuals , although it is important to note that some people develop short-term side effects when taking triptans. Your doctor may also prescribe you;anti-sickness medication. If your situation does not improve after treatment, you might be referred to a specialist migraine clinic.
It is important to avoid taking painkillers on more than two days per week or more than 10 days per month as this can in fact make things worse by triggering;medication overuse headaches.
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What Causes Cluster Headaches
Cluster headaches are so named because they tend to occur daily for periods of a week or more followed by long periods of time — months to years — with no headaches. They occur at the same time of day, often waking the patient in the middle of the night.
The cause of cluster headaches is uncertain but may be due to a sudden release of the chemicals histamine and serotonin in the brain. The hypothalamus, an area located at the base of the brain, is responsible for the body’s biologic clock and may be the source for this type of headache. When brain scans are performed on patients who are in the midst of a cluster headache, abnormal activity has been found in the hypothalamus.
Cluster headaches also:
- tend to run in families and this suggests that there may be a role for genetics;
- may be triggered by changes in sleep patterns; and
- may be triggered by medications
If an individual is in a susceptible period for cluster headache, cigarette smoking, alcohol, and some foods also are potential causes for headache.
How Are Migraines Diagnosed
Your doctor can diagnose migraines by the symptoms you describe. If the diagnosis is not clear, your doctor will perform a physical exam. Your doctor might want to do blood tests or imaging tests, such as an MRI or CAT scan of the brain. These tests can help ensure there are no other causes for the headache. You may also be asked to keep a headache journal. This can help your doctor identify the things that might cause your migraines.
If headache pain is getting in the way of your daily activities, its time to see your family doctor.;Read;More
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Can Cluster Headaches Be Prevented
Since cluster headache episodes may be spaced years apart, and since the first headache of a new cluster episode can’t be predicted, daily medication may not be warranted.
Lifestyle changes may help minimize the risk of a cluster headache flare. Stopping smoking and minimizing alcohol may prevent future episodes of cluster headache.
What To Do When Your Migraines Change Intensity
Over time, migraines can change, both in severity and frequency. In some people, migraines are unpredictable from the start, with some being more easily coped with than others. Most migraine sufferers will experience some change in their symptoms over time.
What causes change varies from person to person, but here are some changes you might notice along with possible causes and what you can do about it.
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What Causes A Headache
The exact cause of headaches is not completely understood. It is thought that many headaches are the result of tight muscles and dilated, or expanded, blood vessels in the head. Although migraine headaches were previously thought to be due to dilated blood vessels in the brain,;newer theories suggest that changes in brain chemicals or electrical signaling may be involved. Other headaches may be caused by an alteration in the communication between parts of the nervous system that relay information about pain, coming from the area of the head, face, and neck. Lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are often the cause of chronic headaches. Occasionally, there is an actual problem in the brain, such as a tumor or malformation of the brain, although this is rare.
The way a child exhibits a headache may be related to many factors, such as genetics, hormones, stress, diet, medications, and dehydration. Recurrent headaches of any type can cause school problems, behavioral problems, and/or depression.