Migraines and headaches affect a large number of the world’s population and, although often just an annoyance, they can become debilitating if they are recurrent or severe. Finding the cause of a headache or the trigger for a migraine is vital when learning to manage the symptoms and avoid further issues, allowing you to go about your day to day life with confidence that your headaches or migraines are being treated effectively.
While headaches can be mild to severe in pain and generally annoying, they are not normally a sign of anything more sinister, so as long as they are not persistent they should not be a cause for concern. Speaking to a MeeDoc doctor about your headaches will ensure you are given the best advice on treatment options.
The most common type of headache which accounts for 70% of headaches is a tension headache. This type of headache is a result of the contraction of the muscles in the head and neck, and affects both adolescents and adults. Causes of this type of headache include:
- Eye strain
- Loud noises
- Bright lights
- Hormonal changes (in women)
The symptoms associated with tension headaches include generalised pain in both the head and neck usually around the back of the head and neck. You may also feel pressure behind your eyes. It may last 30 minutes to several hours, in severe cases it can last several days.
Tension headaches are more common in women than men, and around half the UK adult population suffers once or twice a month. 1 in 3 will have a tension headache up to 15 times a month, and up to 3 in every 100 will experience a chronic type of tension headache more than 15 times in a month for at least three months in a row.
Tension headaches can be easily treated with pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Yoga, massage, exercise and hot flannels applied to the forehead and neck have also been shown to help. Your MeeDoc doctor will be able to give you more advice based on your specific symptoms and help you deal with your headache more effectively.
Migraines are extremely painful and have the ability to alter a person’s quality of life rendering day to day tasks impossible to carry out. Migraines account for 20% of all headaches and include:
- Migraine with aura. Auras include flashing lights, stiff neck and visual changes. Auras generally occur before a migraine attack and affect 1 in 3 people.
- Migraine without aura
- Migraine without a headache. This will include feelings of nausea and have an associated aura, but no headache.
Migraines affect women more than men and an attack can last a few hours or up to three days. While the cause of migraines has still not been established, the following have been associated with migraines.
- History of migraine within the family.
- Alcohol and tobacco.
- Hormonal issues with use of the contraceptive pill.
- Foods such as, chocolate, dairy products and sweeteners.
Symptoms of a migraine include:
- A prodromal stage that occurs hours or days before the headache. This includes extreme fatigue, low mood, feeling unwell and appetite changes.
- Throbbing, pulsating headache on one side of the head.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sensitivity to light and sound.
Over the counter pain killers can sometimes be enough to ease a migraine. In severe cases however, your MeeDoc may need to prescribe stronger painkillers that include anti-sickness medication or triptans which work on blood vessel changes. Lying down in a dark room is also beneficial, and our doctors will be able to talk you through other helpful ways of preventing and treating your migraines.
Reasons to see a doctor
It is not necessary to see a doctor if you suffer the occasional headache or migraine. However, if you suddenly develop a headache that is severe and attacks recurrently, then it would be advisable to contact MeeDoc. Again, if your headache is followed by a stiff neck, vomiting and confusion or a fever then you should seek medical advice. It would also be wise to call MeeDoc if you suffer with a headache after an accident that involved a blow to the head.