A common type of debilitating headache is a migraine. It is about three times more common in women than in men. Migraines tend to be severe and are often associated with nausea and sensitivity to light, noise or smells.
People often mistake migraines for other types of headaches. Since many people don't recognize the symptoms of a migraine, they don't talk with their doctor about treatment options. Gundersen's Headache Clinic can provide treatment options that work best for migraine headaches.
Often, migraines are mistaken for a sinus headache and are treated with sinus medicine. This can actually make the headaches worse if used too often. Migraine-specific prescription medications can often stop severe headaches and help people return to normal function within two hours.
Migraines frequently have triggers such as:
- Certain foods
- Lack of sleep
- Change in the weather
To identify triggers, people should keep a log of migraines and share the information with their primary care provider.
To reduce the frequency and severity of headaches, avoid triggers by adopting lifestyle changes such as:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Eliminating caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
- Establishing consistent sleeping and eating patterns
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress and anxiety
While it's common to reach for a pill when a headache strikes, people should be careful of chronic overuse of over-the-counter pain medications. Pain relieving medications taken too often may do more harm than good. They can hamper the body's natural pain-fighting mechanisms leaving headache sufferers more susceptible to pain after the medication effects wear off.