Is it more than “just a headache”?

Posted on June 2, 2018 by kerri

Inevitable migraine on first day of staycation. Dorky eye mask cap does help with pain and nausea, at least. #migraine #ow #blurgh

I get somewhat frequent headaches, but I recently found a known headache trigger for me hiding in a seemingly innocuous item—my favourite drink, iced tea! Since realizing a few months ago that sometime in the last several years one of my go-to iced tea brands has cut down their sugar and added chemical artificial sweeteners, I’ve drastically cut down on the number of headaches I’ve experienced—from several a week, to just a couple a month, typically triggered by fragrance exposures.

June 1-7 is Headache Awareness Week. If you get frequent headaches, you may just think it is normal for you: half of adults experience symptoms of a headache disorder at least once per year, 30% of adults report having a migraine, and persistent headaches—15 or more days per month—affect just under 2% to up to 4% of adults worldwide [1].

Types of headache disorders

There are several types of headache disorders. Many are very common, but you may have only heard of one or two of these headache disorders. The links beside the types of headache can help you learn more about these headaches.

  • Migraine[1]
  • Tension-type headache [1]
  • Cluster headache [1]
  • New Daily Persistent/Chronic headache[2]
  • Hemicrania continua[2]
  • Hypnic Headache[2]

Other causes of headaches

In addition to these headache disorders, you may experience headaches with a variety of “triggers” or causes. These may be called secondary headache These include:

  • High altitude headache[2]
  • Medication overuse headache or “rebound headache”[1]
  • Allergy or sinus headache[3]
  • Hormone headaches[3]
  • Caffeine headaches[3]
  • Exertion headaches[3]
  • Hypertension headaches[3]
  • Post-traumatic headaches[3]

When to see a doctor

Headaches are common but that does not mean they cannot be treated. While headaches are usually not life-threatening, sometimes they can be a sign of a brain tumour or other serious health problem. You should see a doctor about your headaches if:

  • Your headache lasts more than two days [3]
  • The headache becomes more intense/painful [3]
  • You have headaches more than 15 days a month—this may be a chronic or persistent headache disorder. [3]

Treatments area available to treat headaches; a new preventative medicine has been recently approved by the FDA and should be available soon. If you have headaches, there are many ways they may be able to be managed with support from your medical team, or by figuring out your triggers.

Medical ID for headaches 

Depending on the type of headaches you get and what type of symptoms they trigger for you, or if they are secondary to other medical conditions or medications, it may be helpful to wear a headache medical ID bracelet or medical alert for migraine. For instance, if your headaches cause vision problems it may be helpful to alert others to the fact that this is normal for you and not a sign of a serious medical event like stroke. Our selection of stainless steel medical ID bracelets and necklaces can be found at the My Identity Doctor shop.

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