Headache

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What is an aura?

About 15-20% of people with migraines get an “aura,” which is a manifestation of neurological symptoms that occurs before a migraine headache. The patient may see wavy or jagged lines, dots, or flashing lights; or you might experience tunnel vision or blind spots in one or both eyes. The aura can include visual or auditory hallucinations and disruptions in smell (such as strange odors), taste, or touch. Other symptoms include numbness, a “pins, and needles” sensation, or difficulty in recalling or speaking the correct word. These neurological events may last as long as sixty minutes and will fade as the headache begins.

What is a trigger?

Certain physical or environmental factors, such as foods, hormonal changes, weather, sleep and stress, can lead to or “trigger” a migraine. However, it’s important to remember that triggers are different for everyone. That’s why, to help prevent migraine attacks, you need to figure out which triggers affect you and which ones don’t. Keeping a headache diary is an effective way to track triggers, and it will help you talk to your healthcare professional about your condition.

What are acute medications for migraines?

Acute medications – sometimes referred to as acute abortive medications – are used to treat the pain of the headache after it has started. Examples of acute abortive medications include over-the-counter medications, NSAIDs, ergots, and triptans.

What are preventive medications for migraines?

Preventive medications for migraine – sometimes referred to as “prophylactic” treatments – are used to reduce the frequency, severity, and length of migraine attacks. Examples of preventive medications include antiepileptic medications, antidepressants, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Botox injection therapy is one of the most upcoming and promising therapy for chronic migraines.

What is a tension-type headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?

Tension-type headaches occur randomly and are often the result of temporary stress, anxiety, fatigue, or anger. Symptoms include soreness in your temples, a tightening band-like sensation around your head (a “vice-like” ache), a pulling feeling, pressure sensations, and contracting head and neck muscles. The headache begins in your forehead, temples, or the back of your head and neck. Treatment for tension-type headaches may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, as well as self-help techniques such as relaxation training and biofeedback.

What is a cluster headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?

Cluster headache gets its name because the attacks come in groups. The pain arrives with little if any, warning and is usually on one side of the head. A tearing or bloodshot eye and a runny nose on the side of the headache may also accompany the pain. Cluster headache, believed to be caused by chemical reactions in the brain, has been described as the most severe and intense of any headache type. Treatment for cluster headache includes prescription medication and oxygen.

What is a sinus headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?

When a sinus becomes inflamed, usually as the result of an allergic reaction, a tumor, or an infection, the inflammation will cause localized pain. If your headache is truly caused by a sinus blockage, such as an infection, you will probably have a fever. An x-ray will confirm a sinus blockage. Your physician’s treatment might include antibiotics for the infection, as well as antihistamines or decongestants.

Are headaches hereditary?

Not always. Despite the uncertainty, a child has a 50% chance of having migraines if one parent suffers and a 75% chance if both parents suffer.

What type of doctor should I see to diagnose and treat my headache?

A neurologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the brain and nervous system is the best person to diagnose and treat your headache.