Whether you are new to headaches or you keep a bottle of aspirin next to your toothbrush to stay on top of the attacks, you may benefit from some extra headache knowledge. From symptoms to warning signs of a serious headache, here are five things to know about headaches.
Do you have a headache or a migraine?
The throbbing pain in your head could be more than just your average headache. You may be suffering from a migraine, and knowing the symptoms could help you get relief faster. Migraines are moderate or severe headaches that can also bring nausea and vomiting as well as sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines can last between four and 72 hours and cannot be cured, but they can be treated.
Can kids get headaches too?
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It isn’t surprising that kids can also get headaches and migraines. Children commonly get headaches with varying severity, and they can also suffer from migraines with similar symptoms as those in adults. When a child has a migraine, they may also have difficulty with speech, movement or eyesight until a migraine passes. Depending on how bad the migraines are, kids may miss school or other activities due to their symptoms.
What is causing my headaches?
Tension headaches can be caused by stress or by the muscles of the face, scalp, and neck contracting. They can also be due to lack of sleep or food. These headaches can occur after a stressful event or from eye strain or other factors. Sinus headaches are caused by inflammation of the sinuses, which could be due to a cold or allergies. Migraines may or may not be preceded by an aura, such as visual changes. Migraines can be triggered by a variety of factors, including smells, foods, stress, lack of sleep and bright lights.
How can headaches be treated?
Occasional tension headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. Reducing stress and relaxing in a dark room may also be helpful with tension headaches. Sinus headaches are best treated by clearing sinuses and treating the cause of the underlying sinus inflammation. Migraines can be treated with caffeine, rest, compresses and over-the-counter or prescription medication. A doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent a migraine or to treat one once it arrives.
When should I see a doctor?
Talk to your doctor if headaches are disrupting your daily life. “Regardless of the frequency of your headaches, you should seek help if headaches are getting in the way of work or school or making you miss important events,” said Sarah Hilton, RN., director of advisory services for Skilled Nursing. “You should also be seen for headaches that are getting worse or requiring more medication.” Keep a diary so you can tell your doctor when you are getting headaches and what they feel like. Seek immediate help if you get the worst headache you’ve ever had if you suffer a loss of consciousness, uncontrollable vomiting, or continuing loss of vision.
Headaches are a common malady, but they do not need to run your life. Treat your headaches early and take steps to try to prevent them. If they get worse or get in the way of your daily life, be sure to visit a doctor to help get them under control.
A version of this article was published by the Daily Herald.