It’s Never “Just a Headache”
As we welcome the month of June, Altus Emergency Centers joins the rest of the medical community in speaking out about National Migraine and Headache Awareness to further awareness of neurobiological diseases like migraines and headaches.
According to the National Headache Foundation, 47% of adults in the United States experience some form of headache each year. Despite being such a common ailment, it remains one of the least researched health conditions. During National Migraine and Headache Awareness month, our goal is to raise consciousness, educate the public and reduce the stigma associated with migraines, cluster headaches, and other similar disorders.
National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month FACT: There are 150 documented types of headaches, the most common however, are tension, cluster, and migraine headaches.
Migraine and Headache Type #1
The next type of headache to detail during National Migraine and Headache Awareness month is the “Cluster Headache”.
This type of headache affects only 1% of the population, mostly men, although some women are affected as well. They are recurring abrupt headaches that occur in cycles. This severe, debilitating pain appears suddenly and affects one side of the head, most often around the eye; nasal congestion or runny nose, droopy eyelids, and facial sweating are frequent during these episodes which can last between 15 minutes to 3 hours.
There is no known cause of cluster headaches, although it is believed there may be a genetic correlation. At this point there is no cure, but medical treatments can reduce the frequency and duration of the episodes.
Migraine and Headache Type #2
We begin National Migraine and Headache Awareness month by shedding light on the “Tension Headache”. The most prevalent type of headache, the tension headache is described as a constant ache or pressure around the head, especially the temples or the back of the head and neck. This form can last anywhere from a few minutes to days. They can cause light and sound sensitivity, but do not normally cause nausea and rarely disrupt daily activity.
It is believed the cause of these headaches derives from a contraction of the neck and scalp muscles as a reaction to stress and possibly changes in brain chemistry. For the most part, they are easily treated with over the counter medication, like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. However, the overuse of these painkillers can cause a side effect known as rebound headache, where the medication can cause the brain to move into an excited state triggering more headaches. Overuse of over the counter painkillers can also cause symptoms of withdrawal that could trigger another headache.
Migraine and Headache Type #3
During National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month serves to educate and inform the public regarding this medical condition so that non headache sufferers will have increased sensitivity for those around them that are being affected.
One misconception people have of migraines, is that it only affects adults. While it is true that migraines affect the females more often than males, they affect men and women in all age groups including children, it is estimated that 10% of children in the United States suffer from migraines.
The migraine is a genetic neurological disease, caused by a brain that is overly sensitive to certain stimuli considered migraine triggers, stress is among these triggers.
When is it a Migraine?
There are certain criteria to diagnose a migraine. If you experience any one of the following, you most likely are having a migraine:
- There has been at least five previous episodes.
- Headaches last between 4 and 72 hours.
- There is a moderate to severe throbbing pain concentrated on one side of the head that interferes or disrupts daily activity.
- Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound.
- Some 20% of patients experience aura, in the form of visual distortions or hand or facial numbness.
- There is a family history of migraine headaches.
There is no known cure for migraines, but there are treatment options that include both lifestyle changes and medication, we encourage patients who suffer from headaches to discuss treatment options with their physicians.
Keep an Eye Out for Any Signs of Danger
Know the Signs – When to Visit an ER
When it’s More Than a Headache
A Severe Headache may be the symptom of a more serious medical condition. Visit your nearest Altus ER if you experience any of the following:
- Blurry or loss of vision
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Your headache lasts more than 72 hours
- You experience symptoms greater or beyond anything you have ever experienced before.
Your life is precious. Don’t risk it by hesitating if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, visit the nearest Altus Emergency Center for a thorough evaluation and treatment.
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