Headaches and migraines can vary greatly in severity, and each can create debilitating problems for the sufferer. Although it is not uncommon for people to refer to a severe headache as a migraine, a migraine presents with much different symptoms than does a run of the mill headache. The major differences between headaches and migraines are the causes, symptoms experienced, and the different ways that they are treated.
A headache is simply a pain located in any area of the head or upper neck. More often than not, the pain experienced during a headache is not very severe and does not interrupt one’s daily routine.
There can be a few warning signs that a headache is coming on, including; a tingling sensation or pain in the area of the eye(s), tingling of the scalp, neck pain, and a throbbing without pain in the head.
Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, and symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another. Following is a list of some common headache causing factors:
- Erratic sleep patterns
- Preservatives and other food additives
Although these may be some of the common causes of headaches, illness and medications can also be a contributing factor.
Migraine headaches are much different than everyday headaches, and they can come on suddenly and seemingly without any reason at all. They have been described as an intense pulsating or throbbing sensation in one particular area of the head that comes and goes with repeat episodes, or attacks. They can be accompanied by an extreme sensitivity to light and nausea and/or vomiting, and each episode can last up to several hours or even several days. Migraine attacks can be so debilitating that the sufferer may only gain relief by finding a dark, quiet place in which to lie down and rest. Other common migraine symptoms include:
- Neck Pain
- Blurred vision
- Pain in the temples
- Pain behind the eyes
- Seeing flashes of light or auras
- Tingling sensations in the extremities
The exact causes of migraine headaches are still not very well understood, but it is believed that genetics and environmental factors may play a significant role. Regardless of the exact mechanism of migraines, there do seem to be some common migraine triggers, including:
- Bright lights
- Certain smells
- Skipping meals
- Menstrual cycles
- Physical exertion
- Environmental changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Bright lights and sun glare
- Hormonal changes in women
- Certain foods and/or food additives
- Medications (such as oral contraceptives)
There are many treatments and drugs available to headache and migraine sufferers, but some of the most effective are to be found among the list of natural remedies for headaches, including:
- Scalp massage
- Regular exercise
- Dietary regulation
- Proper sleeping position
- Regulation of sleep schedule
- Reading under sufficient lighting
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- Chinese herbal formulations and teas
- Abstinence from unhealthy lifestyle habits
- Acupressure & Tui na Chinese medical massage
If you are experiencing frequent headaches, migraines, or any other chronic and/or severe pain, please contact your local acupuncturist.