According to Headache Australia, more than five million Australians are affected by headache and migraine... That’s a lot of pain! If you feel a headache coming on, here’s what it could mean...
- Tension-type headache
Feeling a dull or heavy, non-pulsating band of pain, usually on both sides of the head, lasting from between several hours up to a few days at a time.
Tension headaches are the most common. Some tension headaches are triggered by fatigue, emotional stress or problems involving muscles or joints of the neck or jaw.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, a cold pack/heating pad on neck and shoulders, or warm shower.
Pain is usually one-sided, plus nausea, light sensitivity, and there may also be sensory experiences called ‘aura’.
Migraines are two to three times more common in women than men. Neurologists believe that migraines are caused by changes in the brain's blood flow and nerve cell activity. Genetics can also play a role.
Early treatment is important for migraines – non-prescription painkillers may work if taken early on, along with anti-nausea medication. See your doctor about prescription drug options.
- Cluster headaches
Severe headaches on one side that come in clusters, with one to eight abrupt headaches a day.
Although anyone can get cluster headaches, the typical patient is a middle-aged man with a history of smoking.
According to Harvard Health, inhaling pure oxygen can help the attack. See your doctor about prescription drug options.
- Getting to the bottom of your suffering
You can help identify any pattern that may lead to headaches by keeping a diary, says Headache Australia, recording what you do, eat and drink, your hormonal cycle, medications you are taking and any changes in your environment. Get more info and join the Headache Australia Register by visiting headacheaustralia.org.au.