University Headache Center
Do you have one of the more common types of headache?
Eighteen percent of women, 6% of men, and 4% of children suffer with migraine headaches. If you have any of the following features of headache, you may suffer with migraine.
- Migraines are typically one-sided throbbing headaches, moderate to severe intensity, often aggravated by physical exertion or moving around, and are associated with nausea and vomiting.
- Bright lights or loud noises tend to aggravate the throbbing pain of the headache.
Seventy-five percent of migraineurs note some limited ability to function with their headaches. Nearly one-third of migraine sufferers is totally incapacitated with at least some of their headaches. These headaches may last anywhere from several hours to several days. The onset of these headaches typically starts in the second or third decade of life. Despite the disability associated with these headaches, surveys estimate that less than 50% of migraine sufferers are even diagnosed, and most medicate with over-the-counter medications which are not always the most effective treatments available. Over the last several years, revolutionary new drugs have become available for the symptomatic treatment of migraine.
Additional Web Links
Ninety percent of us have experienced a tension-type headache at some time in our lives. "Tension-type" is a classification and not necessarily associated with stress or muscle tension.
Typically these headaches:
- occur on both sides of the head.
- are described as a band-like pressure or vise-like grip around the head.
- are mild to moderate in intensity, and usually are not aggravated by physical exertion.
- are usually not associated with nausea or vomiting, light or sound sensitivity.
- In most cases they can be relieved with over-the-counter medications; that is, simple analgesics.
Unfortunately, some individuals experience chronic tension-type headaches that occur daily or near daily, and may often be precipitated by overuse of pain medications. If you find yourself using pain medications for headaches two days out of a week, you may be contributing to your headache disorder. Treatments for chronic tension-type headaches may include elimination of caffeine, limits of pain medication, and a daily preventive medication, at least for a period of time, to reduce the frequency of headaches.
Additional Web Links
- Tension Type Headaches - National Headache Foundation
Rebound headache or analgesic withdrawal headache is commonly seen in new patients at the University Headache Center who experience daily or near-daily headache and use daily pain relievers or caffeine-containing compounds to alleviate these headaches. Stopping the offending medication often brings on a headache. These headaches may be present with features of tension-type headache and/or migraine.
- Often patients may experience a combination of both migraine and tension-type headaches and cannot distinguish one from the other.
- They tend to over-medicate with pain medication trying to avoid the "big headache". If you are using pain medications or caffeine containing compounds more often than two days out of the week and suffer with this type of headache, it is possible you may be suffering from rebound headache.
Patients may be acused of being "addicted" to pain medication. In reality, most sufferers are "pseudoaddicted", overusing the medications in order to live a normal life and maintain gainful employment.
Treatments may include weaning or eliminating the offending medication, using a daily preventive medication, at least for a period of time, and replacing symptomatic medication with a non-habit-forming, non-rebound-causing medication.
Cluster headaches affect less than 1% of the population and are more commonly found in men than women at an estimated 5:1 ratio.
- These are excruciating headaches that always occur on one side of the head, usually around the eye.
- The pain is described as a stabbing or "hot poker" in the eye, and associated symptoms include watering of the eye, nasal congestion, a small pupil in the one eye and perhaps a drooping of the one eyelid.
- These headaches are relatively short-lived and may only occur for a period of fifteen minutes to two hours, however, often recur one to eight times per day, and may awaken a person from sleep on a regular basis.
- These headaches are severe, and patients cannot get comfortable, pacing about and/or becoming violent, and have been known to commit suicide when not appropriately treated.
- Most patients suffer with episodic cluster headache where they occur for a period of two to three months and then resolve for a period of one or two headache-free years, and then recur in the same manner.
The key to treating these headaches is early daily preventive medication, since most symptomatic medications take too long to become effective, and the peak of the headache has already passed. This headache type is probably one of the most commonly misdiagnosed, often mistaken for sinus disease.
For additional information, also visit: www.MerckMedicus.com