Other Types Of Headaches
Other rare types of headaches include these varieties:
- Cluster Headache These intensely painful headaches last 15 to 180 minutes without treatment and happen in cycles, or clusters.
- Paroxysmal Hemicranias Severe, sometimes throbbing pain on one side of the face or around the eyes lasts 2 to 30 minutes and occurs more than 5 times a day.
- Ice-Pick Headache As the name implies, an ice-pick headache is a migraine characterized by stabbing pain. Fortunately, it is relatively uncommon and typically short in duration.
- Intractable Headache Any headache, including migraine, that doesn’t respond to treatment.
- Occipital Neuralgia This disorder causes pain in the back of the head and upper neck.
How Common Are Headache Disorders
Globally, it has been estimated that prevalence among adults of current headache disorder is about 50%. Half to three quarters of adults aged 1865 years in the world have had headache in the last year and, among those individuals, 30% or more have reported migraine. Headache on 15 or more days every month affects 1.74% of the worlds adult population. Despite regional variations, headache disorders are a worldwide problem, affecting people of all ages, races, income levels and geographical areas.
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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Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided
Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.
Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.
There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.
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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What Causes Chronic Migraine
Its not fully understood what causes chronic migraine.
For a lot of people chronic migraine develops gradually with migraine attacks becoming more frequent over time. Around 2.5 out of 100 people with episodic migraine will develop chronic migraine each year. For some people chronic migraine will go into remission within 2 years of becoming chronic.
The pattern of chronic migraine will vary depending on your individual circumstances. For some people it may return to episodic migraine, some people find it stays the same and others find that it gets worse.
There are a number of medical conditions that can increase your tendency to have migraine. These include:
Managing these can help with managing migraine and the effectiveness of migraine treatment.
Causes Of Chronic Migraine
Sadly, migraines are yet to be fully understood by the researchers and the medical community. Even though some potential causes have been identified, there are still no definitive answers as to the causes of migraines.
Some theories say that a migraine could be a result of a chemical imbalance, central nervous system disorder, vascular irregularities, or even genetics.
In some cases, your chronic migraines may also be an underlying symptom of another severe issue like brain inflammation, traumatic brain injury, meningitis, or a brain tumor. Only your doctor can determine whats causing your chronic migraine after running tests to rule out these conditions.
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Can Stress Cause Migraines
Yes. Stress can trigger both migraine and tension-type headache. Events like getting married, moving to a new home, or having a baby can cause stress. But studies show that everyday stresses not major life changes cause most headaches. Juggling many roles, such as being a mother and wife, having a career, and financial pressures, can be daily stresses for women.
Making time for yourself and finding healthy ways to deal with stress are important. Some things you can do to help prevent or reduce stress include:
- Eating healthy foods
- Being active
- Doing relaxation exercises
- Getting enough sleep
Try to figure out what causes you to feel stressed. You may be able to cut out some of these stressors. For example, if driving to work is stressful, try taking the bus or subway. You can take this time to read or listen to music, rather than deal with traffic. For stressors you can’t avoid, keeping organized and doing as much as you can ahead of time will help you to feel in control.
Discovering Your Migraine Triggers
Migraines affect the lives of about 36 million people in the United States. These debilitating headaches often come with warning signs that can help you head them off at the pass. While your warning signs may fill you with dread, if youre able to identify exactly your triggers, you may be able to avoid migraines altogether.
Some common migraine triggers include:
- Weather changes
This helps us pinpoint the cause or causes of your episodes so we can treat you accordingly.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine
Symptoms of migraine vary depending on the type of migraine and on the person. In general, though, migraine attacks are very painful and can interfere with your daily life.
The most common symptom of migraine is head pain often characterized as an intense throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head but sometimes on both sides of the head, and sometimes starting on one side of the head and moving to the other side.
However, migraine attacks have four stages, with somewhat different symptoms at each stage:
Prodrome, or Warning, Stage
Aura Stage Up to a third of people experience the aura phase, which can last five minutes to an hour and increase in intensity over time. Aura may involve seeing bright spots or patterns of light, and numbness or tingling in various areas of the body but not paralysis.
Headache Phase Pain comes with the headache phase, which can last several hours and up to three days. The throbbing pain may start on one side of the head and move to include both sides. It may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting as well as blurred vision and sensitivity to certain stimuli such as light and noise. People typically seek out a quiet, dark room to rest or sleep during this phase of a migraine attack.
Postdrome, or Hangover, Stage In the last phase of a migraine attack, when the headache pain has eased, fatigue and body aches may occur. You may have trouble concentrating and may still be hypersensitive to certain stimuli.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine
Individual migraines are moderate to severe in intensity, often characterized by a throbbing or pounding feeling. Although they are frequently one-sided, they may occur anywhere on the head, neck and face or all over. At their worst, they are typically associated with sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells. Nausea is one of the most common symptoms and it worsens with activity, which often results in patient disability. In many respects, migraines are much like alcohol-related hangovers.
Migraine pain can be felt in the face, where it may be mistaken for sinus headache or in the neck, where it may be mistaken for arthritis or muscle spasm. Complicating the diagnosis of migraine is that the headaches may be accompanied by other “sinus like” symptoms, including watering eyes, nasal congestion and a sense of facial pressure. Most patients who think they have sinus headache in fact have migraines.
In up to 25 percent of patients, the migraine headache pain may be preceded by an aura, a temporary neurological syndrome that slowly progresses and then typically resolves just as the pain begins. While the most common type of migraine aura involves visual disturbances , many people experience numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, vertigo and other strokelike neurological symptoms. Some patients may experience auras without headaches.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to try to avoid the things that might trigger your attacks. Most people benefit from trying to get stable sleep, eating regular meals, drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, and trying to manage stress. Taking regular exercise may also help prevent migraines since it helps with breathing, improving blood sugar balance and maintaining general wellbeing. Although you should take care not to engage in very strenuous activity that your body is not used to as this can sometimes act as a migraine trigger.
Keeping a diary of your migraines can be a useful way to record when and where you experience attacks, check for any patterns, and try to identify your triggers. Take the diary when you see your GP so you can communicate your symptoms with them and they can find the best way to help you.
Stress Anxiety And Depression
The most common trigger of chronic headaches is stress, and stress can come from just about anything including:
- Major life changes such as a move, new job, marriage, or death in the family
- Deadlines at work, problems with the boss or a coworker, or loss of a promotion
- Unexpected car repair
- Driving to and from work
- Arguing with a spouse or significant other
- Difficulty with children
Chronic stress can lead to other chronic conditions such as anxiety or depression, both of which can cause chronic daily headaches. Chronic stress can also cause tension in the muscles of the neck which can cause tension-type headaches.
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Blood Clots And Vascular Disease
Blood clots that form in or near the brain called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, can also cause chronic headaches. These blood clots can cause increased intracranial pressure which in turn causes a headache that is constant and gets progressively worse as the pressure in the skull rises.
Other vascular diseases such as giant cell arteritis and severe arterial hypertension can also cause chronic headaches. But with vascular disease, the headaches typically get gradually and progressively worse. In some cases, however, people can develop a sudden excruciating headache called a thunderclap headache.
How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine headaches and their triggers can vary a lot between people. Treatment can depend on how severe the headaches are, how often they happen, and what symptoms a person gets with them.
Usually it helps to lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room. Your doctor may prescribe pain relief medicine or medicines that help with nausea and vomiting. Some people need preventive medicines that are taken every day to reduce the number and severity of the migraines.
Some doctors teach a technique called biofeedback to their patients with migraines. This helps a person learn to relax and use the brain to gain control over certain body functions that cause tension and pain. If a migraine begins slowly, some people can use biofeedback to remain calm and stop the attack.
Adding other non-medicine therapies to the treatment plan, such as acupuncture or herbs, helps some people with migraines. But ask your health care provider about these before trying them. This is especially true of herbal treatments because they can affect how other medicines work.
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Why Is It Important To Diagnose These Headaches
If you or a loved one find yourself dealing with these types of headaches, its extremely important that you contact your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Theres no reason to continue suffering and rely on OTC medicines which, as Dr. Soni noted, become less effective over time.
The pain in a patients life can also be a big impediment.
When you look at someone suffering from chronic headaches, they typically dont show outward signs of an illness or disability, she says. Its an invisible illness. And, she adds, chronic headaches particularly chronic migraines are under-diagnosed and under-treated as many patients never seek care.
A patient with one of these chronic conditions isnt able to perform at 100% at all times, and that can affect all aspects of their life from work to family to relationships with friends. It can also directly affect other areas of their health, as Dr. Soni mentions, from sleep to exercise.
Treating these chronic conditions, especially ones with so many unknowns, can be frustrating for patients and healthcare providers alike. There may be patients with whom we try every treatment we can and theyre still living with this chronic pain.
Ultimately, many patients benefit from an interdisciplinary treatment that includes medication, mental health, a pain psychologist, physical therapy and even occupational therapy. The focus, Dr. Soni says, is on function and improving the quality of life.
The Evolutive Process Of Migraine Chronification
Chronic migraine is a disabling, underdiagnosed and undertreated disorder, affecting ~12% of the general population . Progression from episodic to chronic migraine is a clinical reality . Studies show that each year 2.5% of episodic migraine patients progress into chronic migraine which appears as a distinct entity in the classification of the International Headache Society . The nosology of CM has several clinical implications, including the elimination of modifiable risk factors and the therapeutic preventive options for CM patients.
Patients with chronic migraine, have a significantly higher incidence of positive family history of migraine, menstrual aggravation of migraine, identifiable trigger factors, associated symptoms, and early morning awakening with headache . A number of risk factors have been identified to double the risk for migraine chronification , including de novo increased migraine attack frequency and overuse of acute migraine medications , ineffective acute treatment that could lead to medication overuse , depression , which is a common comorbidity of migraine, and lifestyle factors such as stress, high caffeine intake and obesity .
Inflammation and central sensitization in the pathophysiology of migraine chronification
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The Stigma Of Chronic Migraine
At least once a week throughout my childhood, a migraine would force my mother to retreat into her bedroom. Shed shut the blinds and burrow under the covers, overwhelmed by a pain so severe it turned the faintest sound into an agonizing roar and launched waves of nausea with the slightest movement.
Though my family and I tried to be sympathetic, it was hard for us to fully comprehend my mothers migraines or understand why she had to miss so many events because of them. When youre on the outside looking in, you cant begin to appreciate how severely disablingand life disruptingchronic migraine can be.
Treatment For Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
In general, migraine treatment with medicines should be limited as much as possible when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Instead, trying to identify and avoid potential migraine triggers is often recommended.
If medication is essential, then your GP may prescribe you a low-dose painkiller, such as paracetamol. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs or triptans may be prescribed. Speak to your GP or midwife before taking medication when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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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.
So What Does It Mean If You Have Constant Headaches
Technically, for your headaches to be considered chronic, they need to go on for 15 days or longer per month, for at least three consecutive months, SELF reported previously. That being said, if you have recurring headaches for, say, two weeks, that doesnt mean you should discount your painyou should still see your doctor.
The causes of constant, headacheswhether tension or migrainerange from totally minor to pretty major. Here are 10 things your headaches could be telling you about your health.
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