The throbbing, ever-present pain in your head makes it tricky to understand whether the pain you are experiencing is a tension headache or a migraine. However, you need to recognize which category the headache falls into so that you can get the right treatment and alleviate the symptoms. Knowing the type of headache will also allow you to find ways to avoid or minimize the occurrence.
Around 90% of headaches fall under this category. Usually, these symptoms do not occur frequently and when they do, they disappear after a few hours. However, in some people, the symptoms can come on frequently and persist the entire day.
Migraines are not as common as tension headaches, but their symptoms and effects are more draining. The symptoms can last for 4 hours to 48 hours and they vary widely in intensity, duration, and even the exact symptoms.
In tension headaches, the symptoms are not severe, but they are persistent. You feel pain on both sides of the head. However, this pain will not be a throbbing one like you get for migraines. Rather, it will feel like tight pressure in your head. The neck, muscles, and shoulders may feel tense or stiff and you may experience soreness in your temples.
In migraines, you may feel nauseous while one side of your head may experience moderate to severe throbbing pain. You may be sensitive to light and sound, there is temporary loss of vision while your face, eyes, temples, jaw or neck sting If you are physically active, the pain worsens. Sometimes, you may also see dots, curly lines and flashing lights before your eyes.
The Reasons for the Symptoms
In tension headaches, exhaustion, tiredness, worry and stress could be the main reasons. All of these factors cause your neck, scalp and jaw muscles to tighten; and this tightness eventually comes out as pain.
Migraines are generally genetic in nature. Researchers do not know the exact cause. However, the environment also plays a certain role. Bright lights, loud noises or even fluctuating hormones can trigger the symptoms.
For treatment of frequent tension headaches, you must visit your doctor. Depending on the cause, you may have to take prescription antidepressants. Over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen can help to alleviate the symptoms but are not recommended for long term use because of possible adverse effects. Self-relaxation techniques, chiropractic care and acupuncture provide symptomatic relief and are gentler, safer alternatives.
The best way to minimize your migraines is to identify your trigger factors and try and avoid them. Understand your sleeping and eating habits. You can also visit a chiropractor to reduce frequency and intensity of your migraines.