Migraines and Headaches – When to Worry About Them
Could it be something serious?
In the vast majority of cases, a headache isn’t a sign of a serious problem. But, rarely, it can be a symptom of a condition such as a stroke, meningitis, or a brain tumour.
- sudden and very severe headache doesn’t go away and gets worse over time
- occurs after a head injury
- triggered suddenly by coughing, laughing, sneezing, changes in posture, or physical exertion
- associated with weakness, slurred speech, confusion, memory loss, and drowsiness
- headaches with high temperature (fever), a stiff neck, a rash, jaw pain while chewing, vision problems, a sore scalp, or severe pain and redness in one of your eyes
- age over 50 with a worst headache ever
If you’re concerned that your headache might be serious, you should seek immediate medical advice.
Are migraines and headaches all the same? How to differentiate them?
What Causes Migraine?
- More women suffer from migraines.
- Menstrual migraines or hormone headaches — female hormones are to be blamed.
- In some people, certain foods and drinks can trigger a migraine.
- One well-accepted migraine trigger is tyramine and cheese.
- Lack of sleep aggravates migraine headaches.
- Overweight children and teens are more likely to have more frequent and severe headaches.
What Causes Headaches?
- Stress is a common cause of tension or stress headaches.
- Allergy – typical allergy complaints such as sneezing, nasal congestion and itching causes pressure in the forehead or behind the eyes
- Smoking – Nicotine changes the blood vessels in the brain, and cigarette smoke can irritate the nerves in the nose and throat.
- Overuse of medication for chronic headaches can actually lead to more headaches.Caffeine overuse is a common trigger for headaches.
When to See The Doctor?
If your headaches are interfering significantly with your life and causing you chronic pain. Seek medical attention if:
- If you are taking pain medications frequently or in high doses.
- Headaches getting progressively worse over time
- Headaches associated with other neurological conditions like seizures, weakness, vision changes, personality changes and speech changes.
- Relaxation techniques
- heat therapy, such as applying warm compresses or taking a warm shower
- neck stretching
- relaxation exercises
Prevention is often the best treatment for migraine headaches. Examples of preventive methods your doctor may prescribe include:
- Making changes to your diet, such as eliminating foods known to cause headaches such as alcohol or caffeine.
- Taking medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure-lowering medicines, or antiepileptic medications.
- Taking steps to reduce stress
People who have migraines less frequently may benefit from taking medications known to reduce migraines quickly. Examples of these medicines include:
- Antinausea medicines
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
If a person takes migraine headache medications more than 10 days a month, this could cause an effect known as rebound headaches. This practice will worsen headaches instead of helping them feel better.
Identify and Treat Early
Headaches can range from being a mild inconvenience to severe and debilitating. Identifying and treating headaches as early as possible can help a person engage in preventive treatments to minimize the chance of another headache.