A lot of people all over the world suffer from occasional pains surging in the heads, or as they are commonly known, headaches. There are various types of headaches. It can be a regular one where it shows a few typical symptoms or it can be caused due by a migraine. When a patient is undergoing such pain or pressure inside the head, at a first glance it is impossible to say whether the headache is really a regular one or it is a migraine. Therefore, the need to differentiate between migraines and regular headaches is important, especially for effective treatment. When the exact cause is known, the treatment can be done exactly to the point. As a result of which, the patient will experience faster relief from the headache pain. Also, treating a specific headache or a migraine headache can also help the patient to reduce the rate of future headaches significantly.
Therefore the need for migraine vs. headache is essential. Both of the types can be categorized in terms of types, causes, symptoms, effects and treatments.
The unpleasant and painful surges that sometimes occur in the head are known as a headache. During the time it occurs, the patient can feel the typical aching in the head along with a feeling of pressure on both sides of the head. The scale of a headache can be of any amount, from severe pain to average pain, to slight pain, to absolutely mild pain. Since the headaches occur in both sides of the head, the patient may also feel that the head is kind of blurry and heavy during the headache. There are particularly some typical areas where the headaches normally occur. Such areas mainly include the temples, the forehead, the sinuses and the backside of the neck. The duration of a headache is also not fixed. Known to last for upto a week, headaches can go away after a few minutes as well. The average time of a headache is approximately 30 minutes, as per statistics.
Among the various types of headaches normally faced by patients, the tension headache is caused by tensions as the name suggests and is found to be the most common type occurring. Apart from tension, this headache is also caused by anxiety and extreme stress, and sometimes patients may also feel this headache due to strains in muscles.
Types of Headaches
Tension headaches, as mentioned above are the most common form of headache which affects most people globally. However, there are various other forms of headaches which are found quite commonly as well. Some of these headache types are-
1. Cluster headaches
As the name suggests, the cluster headaches occur in the affected patients mainly in clusters. These headaches are generally a very painful experience for the affected patients and the pain lasts longer than normal. Another general pattern of cluster headaches is that they affect only one side of the head. There is a period of cluster headaches. They occur and disappear, then occur again and disappear, and this period continues to follow the same pattern.
2. Sinus headaches
This headache mainly affects the sinuses, as a result of which the sinus headaches are confused with migraine attacks very often. The sinus headaches mainly occur along with all the symptoms that indicate the sinus infection has occurred. A patient suffering from this form of headache often suffers with stuffy nose, congestion, cough, pressure in facial muscles and fever. This type of headache is very painful as well.
3. Chiari headaches
The Chiari headache is a type of headache which mainly occurs in the back, causing pain in the backside of the head. This type of headache mainly occurs due to Chiari malformation, a type of medical birth defect. In this case, the skull formed is not in the right place, as a result of which it pushes against the different parts of the brain, causing the pain.
4. Thunderclap headaches
The thunderclap headache is one of the most severe forms of headaches to exist. Usually, the formation time of such headaches take less than a minute in some cases. This is not a normal type of headache and may be caused due to a medical condition known as subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is really serious. In the thunderclap headaches, the patient may get the pain even with sudden movements of the head, sudden change in light or sound, too much sensory stimulation and with extreme emotional situations. Other causes of the thunderclap headaches are due to internal injuries, stroke or aneurysm. Immediate medical treatment is advised if a patient experiences this type of headaches.
Headaches are serious medical conditions and they should not be taken lightly. On getting migraine symptoms, a patient must visit a doctor for treatment purposes.
Migraines and the pain it causes is very different from the one caused by traditional headaches. In case of a migraine, the level of pain experienced by a patient is much more severe and intense. Additional to the pain in the head, a migraine is normally accompanied by various other symptoms. Some of the typical symptoms of migraine attacks include induced pain in an ear or eye, experiencing nausea, having severe pain in the temples, having an aura or seeing different types of lights or spots which are flashing in nature, acute or immense sensitivity to sound, smell or light, vomiting and temporary function loss of the sensory organs, mainly the eyes.
The tension or the pain caused by a migraine is often compared to the various types of traditional headaches, and the result has shown that the pain experienced in migraines is much more severe. Normally, the migraine pains vary from a scale of moderate to intense. Sometimes, the intensity of the pain is too much for the patient to bear and they need immediate medical attention. One typical characteristic of the migraine headaches is that they generally occur in a single side of the head. Even though rare, migraines affecting both sides of the head are also known. The intense pain felt during a migraine attack is what makes it so difficult. Sometimes the pain is throbbing, and this makes it very difficult to attend the day to day activities.
There are mainly two broad categories in which the migraine headaches can be divided into: migraines that come with aura and migraines that occur without aura. An Aura is a pre feeling that generally comes to the patient before the migraine attack happens. The aura is like a signal that the migraine is about to come within 10 to 30 minutes. When facing an aura, migraine patients are likely to feel that their thinking and reasoning ability has become limited. They start seeing spots and flashes of lights with odd lines. They generally feel their sense of touch going numb or tingling, especially in the hands and face. The sense of vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste all start malfunctioning temporarily.
Sometimes, the migraine symptoms come up one or two days before the actual attack of the migraine happens. This phase is known as prodrome. The symptoms that a migraine patient is experiencing prodrome are having frequent yawns, suffering from sudden depression, having sudden constipation, stiffness of the neck, sudden irritability and unusual cravings for foods.
Triggers for Migraine
Sometimes certain typical situations and actions are known to cause migraine attacks all of a sudden. These actions and conditions can be referred to as the triggering causes for the migraines. There are various types of migraine triggers and they normally vary from person to person. The most common triggering factors of migraine include drinking of excess alcohol, changes in hormonal balance, going through extreme emotional anxiety, taking contraceptives, sudden changes in surrounding conditions and rash movements.
Treatment of headaches
For the basic treatment of headaches, there are various ways that can be used.
Over-the-counter treatments are generally very effective in relieving the patient from headaches. Most of the traditional headaches, especially the tension headaches go away while using this treatment. Drugs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin are generally used for treating these types of headaches.
The cause for most of the traditional headaches is due to stress or anxiety. Therefore, finding good ways of relaxation can prove to be extremely beneficial for the prevention of headaches in the future as well as for reducing the pain of the ongoing headache. Some of the relaxation techniques include body massage, doing meditation or yoga, stretching of the arms and necks and ding exercises specifically designed for body relaxation. Heat therapy, where the warm shower or warm compresses are applied is found to be very effective as well.
Treatment of migraine
There are various ways in which migraines can be prevented or the rate can be reduced.
As far as migraines are concerned, prevention is considered as the best treatment. There are a lot of preventive methods to follow for a migraine patients. For instance, one can take necessary steps for the reduction of stress from their lives. Diet can be changed as well. Processed foods, salted foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol are well known for triggering migraines. Avoiding them can really help in the prevention of migraines. Doctors also prescribe preventive medicines, such as antiepileptic medications, CGRP antagonists, medicines that lower blood pressure and antidepressants.
Patients who suffer from fewer rates of migraine attacks can take the help of medications. These medicines mainly consist of-
- Anti-nausea medicines – medicines like chlorpromazine or Thorazine, prochlorperazine or Compazine and promethazine or Phenergan are known to reduce and remove nausea felt during migraines.
- Pain relievers- pain relievers of mild to moderate intensity like acetaminophen are used.
- NSAIDs – NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen and aspirin are used.
- Triptans – triptans like sumatriptan, rizatriptan and almotriptan are widely used as migraine medications.
All of these medicines are very effective in reducing migraines. However, these medications should be taken strictly as per the dosage of doctors. Otherwise, conditions may become far worse.
The identification of the pain and classifying it as a traditional headache or migraine should be done as fast as possible. The faster the identification, the faster will be the treatment. With faster treatment, the chances of them occurring in the future get reduced significantly.
Even poor habits of sleeping can act as a trigger for migraines. So, patients should maintain a proper routine of rest and sleep. A regular sleeping pattern gives adequate rest to the body, thus decreasing the chances of the migraine attacks.
Taking all of the medications and preventive measures mentioned above can surely help the patients to reduce migraines and headaches. However, there are various types of other nonclinical and natural remedies which can help a patient to get relief from the pain of headaches. Acupressure is one of the most sought remedies for treating pains and headaches.
Acupressure is one of the historic arts followed mainly after the Chinese medication technique acupuncture. Over a long time in history, acupressure has been used to treat pains and headaches effectively. The concept of this treatment is applying pressure to certain target places in the body, known as acupoints. These acupoints are places of high sensory nerves and cells that can affect circulation and reduce pain and stress. These places also act as migraine relief pressure points. The normal stress of the body and muscles as well as helping the body remove the side effects of other treatments, mainly nicotine and chemotherapy are also done by acupressure.
Acupressure can be done at home using fingers only. However if one is not particularly familiar with the pressure points, seeking professional services is advised.
Pressure Point LI-4 or Hegu
Finding the space between your left thumb and index finger
Hegu or the pressure point LI-4 is one of the most active acupoints present in the body. It is located mainly between the index finger and the base of the thumb. Acupressure involves applying specific pressure at this particular point and this helps in the reduction of headaches and pain to a great extent.
To perform acupressure at Hegu, one can press down this point moderately in one hand for approximately 5 minutes. The pressure should be firm but moderate, and the motion should be circular. After some time, the pressure should be applied to the LI-4 point of the other hand.
Doing acupressure several times in a day can be very effective to reduce pain and headaches. With the proper mixture of acupressure, prevention, medication, exercises, rest and following a healthy and stress-free lifestyle, it can be easier to cope with, reduce and even prevent the migraines, headaches and pain from happening as well.