Everybody has headaches at some point. Headaches are the most common source of pain in the body. Over 15% of the world’s population has ongoing pain and 1 in 20 get a headache daily. Headaches are so common that most aspirin purchases are for the condition. Migraines, a common type of headache, could be so bad that medical attention is needed.
When it hurts so bad
There are several reasons for headaches. And no, the reasons aren’t a bad boss or screaming child on a plane. Those are triggers, but the reasons are varied. Tension headaches, for example, occur around the forehead and eyes. Muscle tightness or high blood pressure causes tension headaches. Headaches in the sinus area could be due to sinusitis. Nerve related headaches around the eye, like cluster headaches, could be excruciatingly painful. But migraines are the most common longterm headaches with several causes.
Do you have a migraine?
Migraines originate on one or both sides of the brain. The headache slowly builds and can last between 4-72 hours. Migraines are 3 times as likely to affect women. The source of migraines vary. Hormone imbalances are the most common reason. Drops in estrogen during menstruation cause 28 million women migraines each year. Stress, alcohol, medication or even hereditary issues cause migraines.
Scary symptoms of migraines
Some persons can tell when a migraine is coming well in advance. A common symptom is an aura; a tingling sensation that something’s about to happen with blurred vision. Along with the headache, persons experience numbness, nausea, and vomiting. Persons with migraines also have sensitivities to light, smell, and sound. While most symptoms are treatable, in some cases, medical advice may be best.
When it’s time to see a doctor
Most migraines can be treated with over the counter medication. Ice packs and relaxation techniques are also very effective. However, some cases need further diagnosis and treatment. A significant indicator is if the migraine prevents day-to-day activities, with no relief from painkillers. If the migraine is also chronic, meaning 15 days each month, check with a doctor. Women with constant menstrual migraines may need hormonal therapy to reduce headaches.
Out of the ordinary
Some persons can have no history of headaches, then suddenly develop migraines. Check with a doctor immediately if migraines start after an injury or accident. If the pain brings dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, or other physical changes, this should not be taken lightly. Seek help from a doctor to make sure there is no underlying emergency.
The bottom line
The everyday stresses of life create headaches like migraines. For a few, migraines can be chronic, affecting work and social life. In most cases, headaches can be treated without medical advice. Monitor migraines closely and use the over-the-counter medication if needed. If all else fails, then set up an appointment with a doctor or headache specialist.