If you have never experienced a severe headache, you should consider yourself lucky. According to the latest medical statistics, about 90% of adults above 30 years of age have suffered from something doctors call headache disorder. Without any doubt, headaches are very common in today’s world, and they can be caused by a wide range of factors. If you think about it, you’ll probably remember one of your colleagues complaining about having a headache or a migraine over the last few months.
The problem is that many people confuse these two, and often claim to suffer from a migraine just because they heard the term on TV or in a drug commercial. Since the difference is not trivial, you should first learn how to distinguish a regular headache from a migraine. Once you know what your problem is, you’ll be able to apply the most efficient approach, take the suitable drugs, and solve the issue once and for all.
Recognizing the Difference
In short, migraines are way more severe. While headaches can cause different kinds of pain restricted to your head, neck, and upper shoulder region, migraines can bring about a whole host of other symptoms and complications, sometimes even without the pain in the head itself. A headache is a short-term problem that, even if not treated, will eventually go away. If the pain is not debilitating, and if you’re busy, you might simply ignore it until it goes away. Migraines, on the other hand, are completely different. They represent a recurring disorder characterized by paralyzing pain that can last from a few hours to a couple of days.
Migraines Come In Phases
To find out more about migraines and recurring headaches, we decided to ask Dr Tod Cahill a couple of questions. He is a well-renowned Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractor, from Davenport Iowa, currently living and working in Dubai and you can check his website here. According to doctor Cahill, a migraine attack can be divided into four distinctive phases. It all starts with a premonitory phase, a period that can be completely painless, but is often characterized by mood swings, insatiable hunger, sudden sleepiness, and exaggerated sensitivity to light. After that comes the so-called Aura phase, a period during which your vision might be affected by blurred spots, flashing lights, and blind spots that can enlarge over a short period.
In some cases, even the patient’s ability to speak may be affected. Soon after that, the headache phase will begin, and depending on the amount of pain, some patients might need emergency medical treatment. Strong light, loud sounds, and intensive smells can all worsen the pain. And, on top of all that, this phase might last from a couple of hours up to a week. A migraine attack ends with the so-called Postdrome phase, a period that is usually painless. However, the patient will probably feel completely exhausted, disorientated, and generally weak.
The Most Common Causes and Triggers
According to dr Tod, you are more likely to suffer from a migraine if you are a female. People who have other chronic conditions, such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, are also more prone to migraines. The greatest problem for all doctors is to diagnose the condition on time.
As you are guessing, all the main symptoms of a migraine attack, are also tightly related to a wide range of other ailments, and this can be rather misleading for inexperienced physicians. Therefore, if headaches appear more than they did in the past, you should at least try to avoid some of the most common causes and triggers. It would be great if you could avoid stress, sudden mood changes, sleep deprivation, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
If you are still capable of dealing with this problem without prescribed medication, there are quite a few things you can do to improve your condition. First of all, try to exercise as often as you can. The good old morning exercise routine would probably be the most beneficial. Furthermore, try to pay special attention to what you eat.
Sticking with a diet that excludes the most common trigger foods will significantly decrease the likelihood of developing a migraine. Yoga, meditation, and various simple anger-management techniques have also proved to be very useful. What most medical experts agree on, is that frequent headaches and migraines are nothing but a sign that your body is sending you. A sign that says that you’re doing something wrong, something that needs to be changed as soon as possible.
When to Look For Help
As soon as you realize that the pain you are suffering from is seriously affecting your daily life, you should consider asking for help. You should perceive painkillers only as a temporary solution, and if you notice that they are becoming a habit, make sure you schedule an appointment with a doctor who will provide a more permanent solution.
Furthermore, serious symptoms such as nausea, difficulty speaking, vomiting, and inability to move certain parts of your body are a clear sign that your condition is rapidly worsening. The more you delay seeing a doctor, the higher are the chances of more severe complications. Only an experienced professional is capable of guiding you step by step towards full recovery without any unwanted consequences.
Stay Away From Smoke
When it comes to secondary causes of headaches, cigarette smoke ranks at the very top. If you are a smoker, do your best to avoid the so-called chain-smoking. Never smoke two or more cigarettes in a row, and try not to consume them before you’ve had breakfast. Have in mind that alcohol consumption goes hand in hand with increased cigarette consumption.
If you don’t smoke but spend time with people who do, try to avoid small spaces. Don’t hesitate to let everyone know that you don’t feel comfortable in a room filled with smoke. If a reasonable discussion can’t help, it’s better to leave the premises than to inhale poisonous gasses.