More people complain about headaches than any other medical ailment. There are approximately 45 million Americans complaining of headaches each year. That works out to about one in every six people or 16.54% of the population. More than eight million Americans visit their doctor for complaints of headache each year.
Types of Headache Disorders
Migraine, tension-type headache and medication-overuse headache are of public health importance as they are responsible for high population levels of disability and ill-health.
- A primary headache disorder.
- Most often begins at puberty and most affects those aged between 35 and 45 years.
- It is caused by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that leads to release of pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.
- Migraine is recurrent, often life-long, and characterized by attacks.
- Attacks include features such as
- headache of moderate or severe intensity;
- nausea (the most characteristic);
- one-sided and/or pulsating quality;
- aggravated by routine physical activity;
- with duration of hours to 2-3 days;
- attack frequency is anywhere between once a year and once a week; and
- in children, attacks tend to be of shorter duration and abdominal symptoms more prominent.
Common migraine triggers include:
- Hormonal changes in women. Fluctuations in estrogen seem to trigger headaches in many women with known migraines. Women with a history of migraines often report headaches immediately before or during their periods, when they have a major drop in estrogen. Others have an increased tendency to develop migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal medications — such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy — also may worsen migraines, though some women find it’s beneficial to take them.
- Foods. Some migraines appear to be triggered by certain foods. Common offenders include alcohol, especially beer and red wine; aged cheeses; chocolate; aspartame; overuse of caffeine; monosodium glutamate — a key ingredient in some Asian foods and most processed foods; salty foods; and processed foods. Skipping meals or fasting also can trigger migraine attacks.
- Stress. Stress at work or home can instigate migraines.
- Sensory stimuli. Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Unusual smells — including pleasant scents, such as perfume, and unpleasant odors, such as paint thinner and secondhand smoke — can also trigger migraines.
- Changes in wake-sleep pattern. Either missing sleep or getting too much sleep may serve as a trigger for migraines in some individuals, as can jet lag.
- Physical factors. Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may provoke migraines.
- Changes in the environment. A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
- Medications. Certain medications can aggravate migraines, especially oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin.
Tension-type headache (TTH)
- TTH is the most common primary headache disorder.
- Episodic TTH is reported by more than 70% of some populations; chronic TTH affects 1-3% of adults.
- TTH often begins during the teenage years, affecting three women to every two men.
- Its mechanism may be stress-related or associated with musculoskeletal problems in the neck.
- Episodic TTH attacks usually last a few hours, but can persist for several days.
- Chronic TTH can be unremitting and is much more disabling than episodic TTH.
- This headache is described as pressure or tightness, like a band around the head, sometimes spreading into or from the neck.
Cluster Headache (CH)
- A primary headache disorder.
- CH is relatively uncommon affecting fewer than 1 in 1000 adults, affecting six men to each woman.
- Most people developing CH are in their 20s or older.
- It is characterized by frequent recurring, brief but extremely severe headache associated with pain around the eye with tearing and redness, the nose runs or is blocked on the affected side and the eyelid may droop.
- CH has episodic and chronic forms.
Medication-overuse headache (MOH)
- MOH is caused by chronic and excessive use of medication to treat headache.
- MOH is the most common secondary headaches.
- It may affect up to 5% of some populations, women more than men.
- MOH is oppressive, persistent and often at its worst on awakening.
Why Medications May Not Always Be the Answer
- Sometimes your efforts to control your pain cause problems.
- Abdominal problems. Certain pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), may cause abdominal pain, bleeding and ulcers — especially if taken in large doses or for a long period of time.
- Rebound headaches. In addition, if you take over-the-counter or prescription headache medications more than nine days per month or in high doses, you may be setting yourself up for a serious complication known as rebound headaches. Rebound headaches occur when medications not only stop relieving pain, but actually begin to cause headaches. You then use more pain medication, which traps you in a vicious cycle.
- Serotonin syndrome. This potentially life-threatening drug interaction can occur if you take migraine medicines called triptans, such as sumatriptan (Imitrex) or zolmitriptan (Zomig), along withantidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Some common SSRIs include Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. SNRIs include Cymbalta and Effexor.
Below is a video of Sandlyn‘s Success Story for Migraines. Prior to receiving treatment at Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic, Sandlyn had received a battery of tests from various neurologists, but she still wasn’t able to find a doctor who could successfully treat her migraines. Through chiropractic treatments that specifically addressed her migraines, she is now living pain-free and can’t even remember the last time she had a migraine.
If you’re a migraine sufferer and you’re tired of dealing with your migraines, we would be more than happy to sit down with you to see if our customized care as migraine-specialized Chiropractors in Augusta GA may be the right course of treatment for you. We welcome you to schedule a complimentary consultation to find out if your migraines would be a candidate for our customized treatments.
The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.
Augusta GA Chiropractors Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized care. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for a chiropractor in Augusta GA and a chiropractor in Evans GA that provides customized treatments.
You can schedule your appointment by calling our friendly staff at (706) 814-5053 or use our online form.