How Is Migraine Pain Treated
Migraine pain can be treated with several different types of drugs. Acute treatments are drugs taken at the first signs of an attack to reduce the severity and length of the migraine.2
Mild pain may be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers. This includes aspirin, acetaminophen, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen.2
Prescription drugs called triptans may be needed to control pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain relievers. Triptans can be delivered by capsule, tablet, nasal spray, skin patch, or injection. Some of the brand names of triptans include Alsuma, Frova, Maxalt, and Zomig.2
Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to help prevent migraine. Drugs used to prevent migraine include beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medicines, and calcium channel blockers. Among natural remedies, the herb feverfew has been the most studied. Some studies found it helps prevent migraine but most experts feel it does not.2
Articles On Types Of Headaches
Occipital neuralgia is a condition in which the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp, called the occipital nerves, are inflamed or injured. You might feel pain in the back of your head or the base of your skull.
People can confuse it with a migraine or other types of headache, because the symptoms can be similar. But treatments for those conditions are very different, so itâs important to see your doctor to get the right diagnosis.
Migraine Without Head Pain
Also called a Silent or Acephalgic Migraine, this type of migraine can be very alarming as you experience dizzying aura and other visual disturbances, nausea, and other phases of migraine, but no head pain. It can be triggered by any of a persons regular triggers, and those who get them are likely to experience other types of migraine, too. The International Headache Society classifies this type as typical aura without headache.
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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
What Should I Do When A Migraine Begins
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:
- If you take migraine medicine, take it right away.
- Drink fluids, if you don’t have nausea during your migraine.
- Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical.
Some people find the following useful:
- A cold cloth on your head
- Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Massage or other relaxation exercises
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Migraine And Other Vascular Headachessymptoms And Diagnosis
Migraine: The most common of vascular headaches, migraines are thought to involve abnormal functioning of the brain’s blood vessels. Migraines cause severe pain on one or both sides of the head, upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision. People often describe migraine pain as pulsing or throbbing in one area of the head. During migraines, people become very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseous and vomit. Women are more likely than men to suffer migraines.
Toxic: The second most common type of vascular headache, toxic headache, occurs during fevers from disease.
Cluster: Cluster headaches cause repeated, intense bouts of pain lasting from 15 minutes to three hours or more.
Know When To See A Doctor
Pain in a certain location isn’t an indication that you need to head to the emergency room immediately, says Dr. Hamilton rather, consider the severity and frequency of your headaches, as well as any sudden onset of intense pain. “The features of the headache, like how quickly it came on, the pattern of headaches, whether there are any neurological abnormalitiesthose things tend to be more important in determining whether or not to be concerned about a more dangerous underlying cause,” explains Dr. Hamilton. Keeping a diary can help you identify any consistent activities that happen before a headachetoo much coffee, hours of looking down at your laptop, a long car ridewhich is a helpful step toward mitigating the causes. Ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications should help most head pain, she says, but if you are treating headaches multiple times each week, it may be time to call your doctor.
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Community Experiences Of Migraine And Head Pain
While head pain on one side of the head is common, Migraine.com advocates write about their experiences on coping with all kinds of pain from various migraine symptoms. There is also an emphasis on explaining to others that migraine is way more than head pain. Since migraine is often considered an invisible disease, pain awareness and the invisibility of pain is a popular topic for people to commiserate over. Our advocates’ articles on managing chronic pain can be found here.
Tracking Your Migraine Symptoms
Keeping a record of your migraine symptoms may help you figure out patterns and triggers to your attacks. It may be helpful to record such things as:
- When and where your pain or symptoms start
- Whether the pain spreads to your entire head or neck
- How well and how quickly acute treatment helps reduce the pain or other symptoms
- How long your pain or symptoms last
- Whether you experience other symptoms such as vision changes, nausea, or light sensitivity
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Common Headache Types By Location
Back of your head or neck
Aneurysm or bleeding, called a hemorrhagic stroke
Temporomandibular joint disorder
On one side of your head
If The Pain Is On Your Scalp
Tension headaches dont cause actual pain in your scalp, but they may cause that area to feel tight, almost like a band is being pulled around it.
Unlike migraines and cluster headaches, tension headaches usually cause pain on both sides of your head, mainly your forehead, temples, the back of your head, and sometimes your neck and shoulders, and the pain usually feels like pressure, Dr. Green says.
Stress is the most common cause of tension headaches, although physical problems with your muscles or joints can contribute. Try over-the-counter pain relievers for every-so-often tension headaches, but talk to your doctor if they become chronic.
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What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain
For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:
- an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.
If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.
What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine
If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:
Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.
You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.
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What Causes Migraines
Doctors dont know exactly what causes migraines. It appears that migraine headaches may be caused in part by changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin. Serotonin plays many roles in the body, and it can have an effect on the blood vessels. When serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict . When serotonin levels fall, the blood vessels dilate . This swelling can cause pain or other problems. Another aspect that is being studied is that migraine headaches go along with a spreading pattern of electrical activity in the brain.
Some research suggests there could be a heredity factor for migraines, meaning they may run in families. Researchers have identified some genes associated with migraines. They are unsure, though, why these genes seem to impact some people more than others. The American Migraine Foundation reports that if one of your parents has migraines, there is a 50% chance that you will, too. If both of your parents have migraines, your chances jump up to 75%. Ultimately, migraines seem to be caused by a combination of factors: genetic, environmental, and lifestyle.
Women are more likely to have chronic migraines . This is likely linked to hormones. Hormones fluctuate each month around the time of your period. They can also fluctuate if you are pregnant or going through menopause.
What Is An Aura
An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. Commonly misinterpreted as a seizure or stroke, it typically happens before the headache pain, but can sometimes appear during or even after. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.
Aura symptoms are reversible, meaning that they can be stopped/healed. An aura produces symptoms that may include:
- Seeing bright flashing dots, sparkles, or lights.
- Blind spots in your vision.
- Numb or tingling skin.
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There Are Two Main Types Of Headachesand Location Does Matter When Identifying Them
Most headaches fall into one of two categoriestension or migraineand the location of your pain is one tactic for distinguishing between them. “Tension type headaches tend to be more mild, are on both sides of the head, and are often described as dull pressure or a band around the head,” says Dr. Hamilton. “Migraines tend to overall be more severe.” They’re typically one-sided and culminate in a more throbbing, pulsing painand have other unfortunate symptoms, like nausea or light sensitivity, she says. And while there is a third type, it’s far less common: Cluster headaches always happen on the same side of the head, behind your eye.
Common triggers of tension headaches and migraines include dehydration, illness, not getting enough sleep, hormonal changes, skipping meals, and stressbut those don’t cause a headache in one specific location. “When we’re diagnosing headaches, we take into account triggers,” says Dr. Hamilton, “but there’s not a headache due to dehydration specifically, or a headache due to sleep deprivationthose would be lumped into the migraine or tension-type.”
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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When To See A Doctor For Your Headache Or Migraine
It can be difficult to determine if you’re experiencing a headache or a migraine. If you’re confused about what could be happening, you can visit Indigo Urgent Care and receive a professional diagnosis. Our providers can give you a clear answer and path forward to manage your pain effectively.
Indigo Urgent Care is open every day, 8 am to 8 pm for in-person appointments. You can also be seen from the comfort of your phone with , 24/7.
Watch Your Overall Health
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When you have a particular health problem such as headaches or migraines, itâs easy to concentrate on that problem and ignore your overall health. Donât fall into this trap.
Good overall health is essential when you’re struggling with any more specific health problem. If you stay generally healthy, you may even help yourself contain your head pain.
An important component of both good health and pain management is regular exercise. So is maintaining a healthy weight, as obesity increases the risk of chronic headaches.
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I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle
More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.
How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.
Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.
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.
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When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider
- You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
- You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
- Your headache comes on suddenly.
- You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.
Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:
- The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
- Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.
Facts You Should Know About Headaches
- While many people may think that every severe headache is a migraine, this label is actually reserved for headaches that meet specific criteria.
- There are many different types of common headaches.
- And, although some of the symptoms associated with each type may overlap, recognizing the distinct features of the headaches can help the patient and doctor determine the best treatment strategy.
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Why Does My Lower Abdomen Hurt When I Sneeze
Experiencing pain when coughing or sneezing, lifting heavy objects, or even when laughing or crying can be a sign of a hernia. Usually this discomfort will be felt in the lower abdominal area. Frequent heartburn, indigestion and regurgitation can be indicators of a hiatal hernia.