What To Know Before You See The Doctor
Some people think an occasional headache is nothing to worry about. But headaches can become a problem if:
- You experience them frequently
- They become severe
- They are disrupting your everyday life
To help your doctor diagnose the source of your headaches, I find it useful when my patients keep track of how often theyre happening. This way, I can determine whether theres a pattern in triggers.
Seek immediate care for your headache if you experience:
- A sudden, intense headache
- Loss of consciousness or vision
- Frequent vomiting
- Pain for more than 72 hours with little to no relief
If youd like to speak with a Temple doctor about your headaches, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED today.
What Do Different Types Of Headaches Mean
Not all headaches are created equal. Different types of headaches occur in different places and have different causes.
The most common types of headaches are tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches.
Tension migraines might feel like a band tightening around your forehead. When you have a tension headache, it usually means the muscles in your neck or scalp are tight or irritated.
Migraine headaches are moderate to severe headaches that can occur amidst many other symptoms. Doctors are not entirely sure what causes migraine headaches, but they can help you avoid them. Many people achieve relief from their migraines by avoiding trigger foods.
Cluster headaches are the rarest of the primary headaches. This type of headache may occur in or around one eye, or on one side of the head. Headaches will likely happen close together for a few days, and then maybe not at all for several months.
Like migraine headaches, doctors are unsure about the cause of cluster headaches. But the cycle of a cluster headache indicates that the bodys biological clock has a role to play in cluster headaches. Fortunately, these types of headaches are not life-threatening.
How Is Abdominal Migraine Similar To A Migraine
Abdominal migraine and migraine share similar triggers, such as stress, skipping meals, exposure to bright light, poor sleep, and foods containing chocolate, caffeine, and monosodium glutamate . Because there are so few studies on medications used to treat abdominal migraine, patients with the condition are often treated with medications shown to be effective on a migraine.
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When To Contact A Medical Professional
- You are experiencing “the worst headache of your life.”
- You have speech, vision, or movement problems or loss of balance, especially if you have not had these symptoms with a migraine before.
- A headache starts suddenly.
Schedule an appointment or call your provider if:
- Your headache pattern or pain changes.
- Treatments that once worked no longer help.
- You have side effects from your medicine.
- You are taking birth control pills and have migraine headaches.
- Your headaches are more severe when lying down.
Headache Symptoms That Need Medical Attention
If you have any type of chronic headache, its a good idea to contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Headaches are considered chronic if they happen 15 days or more per month.
Sometimes, a headache can indicate a more serious medical condition such as:
Everyone is different, so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your headaches.
Here are some ways that you may be able to help ease your headache pain with self-care:
- Lie down in a dark, quiet room. Take a nap if you can.
- Apply ice or a cold compress to the area that hurts. Some people find that heat works better.
- Drink water to stay hydrated.
- Do some deep breathing exercises.
- Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories as directed. Be careful, because taking too many can lead to rebound headaches.
- Drink a little caffeine.
For chronic headaches, your doctor may prescribe medications based on the specific type of headache you have. These medicines include:
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Headache Treatment In St Louis
If you suffer from frequent headaches and you havent found a treatment that works, you might have a temporomandibular joint disorder . TMD is a disorder that affects the jaw joints. When the joints become imbalanced, it causes the muscles to compensate for the imbalance by correcting themselves. This can lead to muscle strain that causes facial pain as well as headaches. TMJ disorders can also cause jaw pain, worn teeth, clicking and popping when opening and closing the mouth, and ear pain.
When Dr. Hill provides you with TMJ treatment, it will help relax the jaw joints and allow them to rest at their most optimal position. With treatment, the painful symptoms, including frequent headaches and migraines will go away.
If youre looking for headache treatment in St. Louis, consider booking a consultation at Smile On Dental Studio in Clayton to learn if TMD is the cause. Please call to get started.
Medications Our Doctor May Prescribe To Treat Our Chronic Daily Headache:
- Antidepressants These medications can also help treat the depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances that often accompany a chronic daily headache.
- Beta-blockers These drugs are commonly used to treat high blood pressure. They can also be used to help prevent episodic migraines.
- Anti-seizure medications Some of these medications are used to help prevent migraines as well as a chronic daily headache.
- NSAIDs Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be helpful especially if you are trying to withdrawal from other pain medication.
- Botulinum toxin Botox injections would most likely be considered if the headache has features of chronic migraines.
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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.
Interesting Causes Of Headaches
Some of the causes of headaches are very obvious and clear as already mentioned in the table. However, we have indicated some lesser known reasons behind headaches that are common to all types of headaches. These causes act more like a trigger for the onset of headaches.
Body Posture Your posture is directly linked to the headaches. Improper standing, sitting, sleeping postures can put strain and tension on your neck and back, this can cause a headache. Sometimes a wrong way to bend over, sitting on a chair that is not comfortable and does not have proper back support can also trigger headaches. If you are suffering from chronic headaches, you might want to reconsider your posture.
Chewing Gum You might be surprised by reading this, chewing gum for a longer period of times can tire your jaw muscles and this can lead to headaches. The artificial sweeteners in most of the chewing gums are not healthy also ad can also trigger headaches. You must reduce the time you chew gums and check if your headaches intensity lessens or remains the same.
3D Technology Reports have suggested that 3D technology can trigger headaches in many people. If your 3D screen time is too much and you suffer from headaches, you need to reduce it. Too much screen time is also not good for your eyes.
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Who Is At Risk For Abdominal Migraine
Abdominal migraines mostly affect children, with the first episode occurring between 3 and 10 years old. Most children seem to outgrow the condition, though abdominal migraines in adulthood are just starting to be studied. A child with a family or personal history of migraine headache has an increased chance of developing abdominal migraine.
When People With Migraine Experience Pain In Areas Other Than Their Head Is It Cause For Concern
Pain in other locations besides the head and neck, while not dangerous, does raise the possibility of other causes, and a healthcare provider should think differently about treatments to try.
This article was edited by Angie Glaser and Elizabeth DeStefano, based on an interview with Rebecca Brook NP. Paula K. Dumas also contributed to the content, reviewed by Drs. Starling and Charles.
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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.
Abdominal Migraine In Children
Abdominal migraine is mostly seen in children. A child will present with episodes of nausea, vomiting, and pallor twice or thrice a month, with a symptom-free period in between the episodes. Since the children cannot completely discuss their symptoms so it is often misdiagnosed as a simple bellyache.
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Does The Headache Location Mean Anything
Yes, the location of a headache will tell us what type of headache it is. When we know what kind of headache it is, we can determine its root cause. Its always important to know the root cause of a headache so we can tailor a treatment plan.
We may feel headaches in the front of our head, on one side, both sides, or in the back of our heads.
For instance, if your headaches occur mostly around your eyes, across your cheeks and the bridge of your nose, it is probably a sinus headache. Sinus headache pain can also occur in the forehead or around the top teeth. When you have a sinus headache, it may mean you have an upper respiratory infection or some other allergy. We may treat that headache with allergy medicine, or your treatment may be as simple as avoiding foods that trigger the headache.
Tension headaches feel like a tight band around the forehead. They may develop if you overuse headache medications. There may also be inflammation in the area. We may treat this type of headache with NSAIDs, antidepressants, or even Botox injections.
How Are Headaches Classified
In 2013, the International Headache Society released its latest classification system for headache. Because so many people suffer from headaches, and because treatment is difficult sometimes, the Headache Society hoped that the new classification system would help health care professionals make a more specific diagnosis as to the type of headache a patient has, and allow better and more effective options for treatment.
The guidelines are extensive, and the Headache Society recommends that health care professionals consult the guidelines frequently to make certain of the diagnosis.
There are three major categories of headache based upon the source of the pain.
The guidelines also note that a patient may have symptoms that are consistent with more than one type of headache, and that more than one type of headache may be present at the same time.
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How Migraines Are Different
In many ways, a migraine should be thought of as more of a neurological disorder than a headache. A number of factors make migraines different than other types of headaches:
- Causes:While migraines arent the only primary headache disorder, they do differentiate themselves from other types because they occur independently of other health conditions.
- Associated symptoms:While some other types of headaches cause additional effects, migraine attacks are sometimes associated with nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and other symptoms.
- Location of pain:Migraine headaches often occur on one side of the head, tending to move to the other side over the course of the attack. In contrast, sinus headaches focus on the forehead and face, tension headaches tend to wrap across the head and neck, and clusters are centered on or around the eye.
- Diagnosis:As a primary headache disorderand unlike headaches due to tumors or traumamigraines cant be diagnosed using imaging or blood tests.
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.
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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.
Is It Common To Experience Migraine And Chest Pain
It is not particularly common to experience chest pain during a migraine attack. Some people may experience chest pain or tightness in response to certain migraine treatments, like the triptans. In that circumstance, it is not typically related to the heart, but could be caused by spasm of the esophagus or something similar.
If someone is experiencing significant chest pain without having taken a triptan, that is a red flag that there’s something else going on that should be investigated further.
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What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:
Eat regularly and do not skip meals.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can help reduce tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
- Keep a migraine journal to help you learn what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.
What Are The Symptoms Of Migraines
The primary symptom of migraine is a headache. Pain is sometimes described as pounding or throbbing. It can begin as a dull ache that develops into pulsing pain that is mild, moderate or severe. If left untreated, your headache pain will become moderate to severe. Pain can shift from one side of your head to the other, or it can affect the front of your head, the back of your head or feel like its affecting your whole head. Some people feel pain around their eye or temple, and sometimes in their face, sinuses, jaw or neck.
Other symptoms of migraine headaches include:
- Sensitivity to light, noise and odors.
- Nausea and vomiting, upset stomach and abdominal pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Feeling very warm or cold .
- Pale skin color .
- Euphoric mood.
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How Are Migraine And Ear Pain Linked
Ear pain by itself is not that common with migraine. Usually, migraine pain is felt on the side of the head or both sides of the head, and that can include the ears. If ear pain is severe, healthcare providers typically think about other causes to rule out, including local ear pathology or problems involving the other cranial nerves.
One of the primary headache disorders that can cause ear pain is something called “paroxysmal hemicrania” or “hemicrania continua.” For those conditions, ear pain is relatively common, so if ear pain is a really prominent feature, other causes should be investigated.
When Should You Be Concerned About A Headache
Nearly everyone has headache pain occasionally. But most headaches are not symptoms of serious medical conditions.
However, there are times when headache pain may be a sign of something else. Here are a few signs and symptoms that will help you know when to worry about a headache:
You should be concerned about your headache if you also have:
- Sudden, very intense headache pain
- Severe or sharp headache pain that is not usual for you
- A stiff neck and fever
- A fever higher than 102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit
- A nosebleed
- An animal bite
If you experience any of these, you should seek immediate medical attention. These are all signs of deeper, more serious medical issues. When headaches happen in conjunction with other symptoms, they are almost certainly signs of a deeper issue.
For instance, if you experience a headache after a fall or blow to the head, you may have a concussion.
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