Most people have suffered from a headache at some point in their lives. You may even have a few tried-and-true tricks for mitigating them – from keeping your medicine cabinet stocked with Excedrin or other over-the-counter medication, to being ready to close your eyes and take a quick nap as necessary, to keeping a cold compress at the ready.
Before you brush off the latest bad headache as a run-of-the-mill occurrence, consider whether it could be something more serious, such as a migraine headache. Migraines affect around 10 percent of the world’s population, but many sources are now reporting that the condition is widely underdiagnosed and untreated – and therefore, many cases go unreported.
Common Types of Headaches
The most common type of headache is tension headaches, which are triggered by stress, muscle strain, or anxiety. If you feel unpleasant pains or pressure and aching at the forehead, temples, and back of the neck, a tension headache may be to blame.
There are several other varieties of headaches, including:
- Cluster headaches, which come in waves and have periods without pain.
- Sinus headaches, which are a residual effect of sinus infections.
- Chiari headaches, which are caused by a skull malformation. This type of headache can be triggered by sudden pressure such as coughing, and they often occur with pain and/or dizziness.
How Are Migraines Different from Other Headaches?
One of the main differences between migraines and other types of headaches is the severity of head pain involved. Migraines cause pain on one or both sides of the head, and they can be accompanied by disturbed vision, a stomach ache, pulsating head pain, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and a worsening with activity.
Another differentiator is what transpires before you feel the pain. Migraines send us warnings before they ensue; catching these warning signals early can mean the difference between living a normal life or being bedridden until the migraine subsides.
Phases of Migraine Attacks
“Prodrome” is the first phase of a migraine attack, and this may begin hours or even days before it materializes. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, excessive yawning, increased urination, and neck pain are some of the symptoms during this stage – but the most common symptom is irritability and an intense feeling of being annoyed.
The following phase, often called “aura,” features the hallucinations, blurred vision, dizziness, and vertigo that many associate with the syndrome. Unlike a normal headache, migraines affect the body in its entirety – which can wreak havoc on the digestive system, cause changes in body temperature (heat flashes and chills), and an allover pulsing or throbbing.
The final phase is the “postdrome,” which is also referred to as the “migraine hangover.” It’s important to consider how you feel after a migraine passes.
Managing Migraine Headaches
According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping a journal of your signs and symptoms can help you and your physician better determine whether you’re experiencing a migraine or another type of headache. While you’re jotting down these details, be sure to note when your headaches occur (day of the week, time of day, etc.), changes that may have occurred in sleep or stress levels, and what foods you have recently consumed.
A pain specialist will be able to suggest a variety of ways to reduce the severity and number of migraine headaches that plague you. Making certain changes to your diet can be beneficial, such as reducing or eliminating your consumption of caffeine and alcohol – which are catalysts for this condition. Mild to moderate pain relievers may be prescribed, which can be highly effective when taken at the first sign of symptoms.
Pain Doctor in Texas
Don’t let pain put a damper on your life. Using physical and behavioral therapy – plus advanced interventional procedures – the experienced and trustworthy pain specialists at Balcones Pain Consultants utilize diagnostics and a comprehensive approach to devising a customized treatment plan for you.
Migraine-related head pain is one of our primary focuses, and we offer many treatments to quell it: From BOTOX® injections to acupuncture, you’re sure to find some relief.
For more information on our services, call our office at (512) 834-4141 or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you live a fuller, more pain-free life.