From Tension to Tranquility:
Pathways to Migraine
and Headache Relief
Imagine your day shattered by a debilitating headache, your mind in a fog of pain and pressure. This is a reality for millions of people who experience tension headaches or migraines.
In the U.S., over 15% of adults complain of severe headaches or migraines. It’s not just a headache; it’s a significant obstacle that hinders your productivity and personal well-being.
Of the people who experience episodic migraines, 2-3% develop chronic migraines. Chronic migraines are when your headaches occur on half of all days for 3 or more months.
Risk factors for chronic migraines include:
- Stressful life events
- Head injury
- Excessive caffeine use
- Overuse of opioids and barbiturates
- Snoring and sleep apnea
- Other pain conditions
- Allodynia (skin and scalp sensitivity to touch)
- Allergic rhinitis
If you regularly experience tension headaches or migraines, read on to discover how you can best cope with these debilitating ailments.
An Overview of Tension Headaches vs. Migraines
Headaches, specifically tension headaches and migraines, are a prevalent health concern. Understanding the symptoms and differences between these two types of headaches is essential for effective management and relief.
Tension headaches commonly manifest as a pressing tightness around your head.
On the other hand, migraines are intense headaches accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity, and often, incapacitation. Migraines are a neurological disease which can be lifelong.
Understanding the Triggers of Tension Headaches and Migraines
There are multiple possible triggers of tension headaches and migraines that vary greatly between individuals, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Tension Headache Triggers
Stress: A prevailing trigger, causing a tight band of pain around the head. Other triggers include eye strain, neck pain, or dental issues.
Caffeine Intake Changes: Abruptly stopping or increasing your caffeine intake can lead to painful headaches.
Other Environmental Triggers: Lack of sleep, dehydration, and hypoglycemia are common causes.
The triggers for migraines can be similar to the ones for tension headaches, but can also include the following:
Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes can trigger migraines, especially in women around their menstrual periods.
Specific Foods: Foods like chocolate, salty treats, and alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are also common triggers. Although many different foods and beverages can trigger migraines, there is what is known as “The 5 C’s of migraines”: cheese, chocolate, coffee, coke, and citrus fruits. And a 6th C is claret, or red wine.
It’s a good idea to maintain a headache diary to identify your own personal patterns and triggers, so that you can employ the most effective strategies that work best for you.
Remedies for Tension Headaches and Migraines
Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises, can help with your headache relief. Physical activity should also be a priority in your weekly routine. Regular exercise not only boosts your overall well-being, but it also diminishes headache frequency and severity. Over-the-counter and prescription solutions can also be helpful. Pain relievers like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Naproxen can offer almost instant relief.
For migraine-specific pain, you can try triptans and ergots if your doctor recommends them. These are prescription drugs designed to target and alleviate the debilitating pain.
Preventative migraine medications include beta blockers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Your primary care physician can tailor your migraine management strategies to your own needs and even refer you to a specialist if necessary.
If none of the above medications work, CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) inhibitors are newer treatments that have shown promising results. These inhibitors are available in both oral and injectable doses, offering a range of options for individuals seeking relief from frequent and severe migraines. Botox injections can also be effective.
However, like any medication, it’s essential to discuss with your doctor to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of each treatment option, and determine the right choice for your migraine management.
Get Help for Your Migraines at Hoag
Understanding, managing, and preventing tension headaches and migraines is an important step toward reclaiming your quality of life. Hoag is here for you, offering a multi-faceted approach to headache and migraine management. Hoag provides you with the medical guidance and support you need so you’re not going through this alone.
For more immediate consultations, join our membership program, Hoag Compass. Simply download the Hoag Compass mobile app and schedule a virtual appointment with a Hoag doctor for the same or next day.
With Hoag’s support, you can discover your unique pathway from frequent tension headaches and migraines to relief and renewed well-being.
You owe it to yourself to explore the benefits of a Compass membership and experience the world-class medical care offered by Hoag.