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Headaches and Migraines: An Informed Perspective

Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-AdamReviewed on 30.10.2023 | 4 minutes read
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Headaches are a prevalent form of pain that can affect individuals of all age groups. They are frequently triggered by various factors, including inadequate sleep or hydration.

Among the multitude of headache types, two recurrent forms stand out prominently. The first is tension headaches, characterised by a sensation of pressure and a constricting "band-like" feeling around the head. The second is migraines, which manifest as pulsating, pounding, or throbbing pain. Migraines often accompany visual disturbances known as aura and heightened sensitivity to light.

Effective management of headaches and migraines involves a comprehensive approach that considers both preventive measures and acute treatment strategies. Preventive measures may encompass lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, staying hydrated, managing stress levels, and adopting a healthy diet. Additionally, identifying and avoiding potential triggers, such as certain foods, environmental factors, or hormonal changes, can play a crucial role in preventing headache episodes.

When it comes to acute treatment, various options exist depending on the severity and specific type of headache. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may provide relief for mild to moderate headaches. For more severe or recurring migraines, prescription medications targeting specific mechanisms involved in migraine pathophysiology, such as triptans, may be prescribed by healthcare professionals.

In recent years, non-pharmacological interventions have gained recognition as adjunctive treatments for headaches and migraines. These may include relaxation techniques, biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acupuncture, or physical therapy. Additionally, lifestyle modifications like regular exercise, adequate sleep hygiene, and stress management techniques have shown promise in reducing headache frequency and severity.

It is important to note that a personalised approach to headache and migraine treatment is essential, as individual experiences and responses to various interventions can vary significantly. Consulting with a healthcare provider, such as a primary care physician or a neurologist specialising in headaches, is crucial for accurate diagnosis, tailored treatment plans, and ongoing management to improve the quality of life for individuals dealing with headaches and migraines.

Healthwords Pharmacists top tips

Finding out the cause of the headache is often as important as treating the headache. Solving the underlying cause will help long term rather than temporarily. Drink plenty of water and not too much caffeine, as these are some of the most common causes of headaches. Also, another reason could be not getting enough sleep or not eating the right foods. Therefore, we recommend a migraine/headache diary. Record the days you get a migraine and include all details leading up to the migraine, such as food, water, intake, sleep and caffeine. This will help in figuring out the root. Drink plenty of water and not too much caffeine as these are some of the most common causes of headaches. Also, another reason could be not getting enough sleep or not eating the right foods. Therefore, we recommend a migraine/headache diary. Record the days you get a migraine and include all details leading up to the migraine such as food water, intake, sleep and caffeine. This will help in figuring out the root.

Help from the pharmacy

Mild to moderate painkillers can be found in a pharmacy. Some of these even contain anti-nausea agents to help with migraine-associated nausea. Primarily what is recommended is aspirin or ibuprofen to help with headaches. If still in pain, then take paracetamol as well. Buccastem M can help with migraine-associated nausea. Also, the migraine-only medicine sumatriptan can be taken through the direction and approval of your pharmacist or doctor. If you are unsure which therapy is best for you, speak to your pharmacist.

When to go to your doctor

If you still have pain after trying the strongest over-the-counter medication, you may need to see your doctor about alternative therapies. A sudden severe headache or a non-blanching rash associated with a headache may need to be seen immediately as an emergency. Also, you will need to see your doctor if you get any blurred vision, double vision, pain in the eye or weakness. Headaches during pregnancy should always get looked at by your doctor or midwife. If you are unsure whether you need to see your doctor, just speak to your local pharmacist.

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Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed on 30.10.2023
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