Health Tips > Stress Less > Headache Basics - Triggers, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Headache Basics - Triggers, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

View All Section Pages

Headache Basics - Triggers, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, reoccurring headaches each year according to the National Headache Foundation. Of those 45 million, approximately 28 million suffer from regular migraines.

Cooper Clinic Platinum Physician, Emily Hebert, MD, says that the majority of headache complaints she receives tend to be caused from tension. Aside from tension headaches, patients may suffer from migraines and sinus headaches among others.

What Triggers a Headache
Headaches can be triggered by many things and are largely based on the individual. Stress is one of the most common triggers for headaches, along with hormones and various other situations.

Managing your stress, one of the 8 Steps to Get Cooperized™, is essential for overall health and well-being. If you don’t get a hold of your stress, your body reacts in many ways including painful and reoccurring headaches.

Types of Headaches
While one person might experience debilitating migraines on a regular basis, another person might have tension headaches. Here are the three most common headaches:

  1. Tension – Many people hold tension around their shoulders and back of the neck causing severe muscle contraction. At the end of the day, when all of the tension is released and the blood starts to flow back to your muscles, you experience a tension headache. Usually, people describe them as a band around the head—from the forehead to the back of the head. More men than women tend to experience tension headaches.

  2. Migraine – Most of the time sufferers of migraines are able to tell when the headache is coming based on neurological changes. They might experience an aura that causes visual, sensory, motor or verbal disturbance. These are usually the most severe headaches and are isolated to one side of the head. More women than men experience migraines.

  3. Sinus – Sinus headaches are oftentimes due to allergies or a cold and the congestion and pressure from those illnesses. These headaches will occur around the cheekbones, forehead or bridge of the nose.

Relieving a Headache
When it comes to migraine headaches, prevention is key. Medications may be prescribed by your doctor if you experience frequent migraines. Tension headaches can be alleviated with over-the-counter medications or a few natural treatments such as maintaining a lower stress level or remembering to relax your shoulders and neck every few minutes.

Exercise not only helps manage stress levels, but in the long run could help relieve headache symptoms. Some say exercise triggers their headaches but the more they exercise and stay active, the less the headaches occur.

When to See a Physician
If headaches are affecting your everyday life and routine, always see your physician. Any time you experience the aura or neurological symptoms, contact your physician. This also goes if you lose consciousness or receive what’s called a thunder-clap headache. Thunder-clap headaches occur out of the blue as an acute, extremely painful headache, in which case you should go to the emergency room.

Another time to see a physician is when you have cyclical headaches that are debilitating to your life. For example, if a woman experiences an unbearable headache each month with her menstrual cycle that interferes with her daily activities, she should seek out advice from a physician.

It’s important to work on managing your stress levels to help alleviate headaches. Try exercising, mediation or a change in diet to reduce the number of headaches you experience.  

For more information about Cooper Clinic, click here or call 972.560.2667.