Tension Headaches vs Migraines
Whether you've suffered headaches for years or have started experiencing them recently, the first step to getting the proper treatment is identifying what type of headache you have. Is it a tension headache or migraine?
A tension-type headache is the most common type of headache and the one most people term as “the normal everyday headache”. Almost everyone has experienced a tension headache at some point. In fact, most of us experience tension headaches every once in a while, and then they disappear within a few hours. The main symptom of a tension headache is usually a sense of tightness or pressure on both sides of your head. While the underlying cause of a tension headache remains unclear, it's often been attributed to stress, anxiety or eye strain.
On the other hand, migraine headaches, though not as common, tend to have much more pronounced symptoms. For example, while tension headaches do not cause vomiting, nausea and vomiting often accompany migraines.
A migraine headache often begins as a dull ache and grows into throbbing pain. Another common symptom is sudden sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. That being said, the duration, intensity and symptoms differ from one person to the next.
What Makes a Migraine Chronic?
Migraine headaches can be episodic or chronic in nature. With typical episodic migraines, several weeks or even months may pass between attacks. On the other hand, chronic migraine is a condition whereby an individual experiences headaches at least 15 days a month, with at least 8 days registering severe headaches with migraine symptoms. Due to the severity of the symptoms, people suffering from migraines often experience significantly more time absent from work or school, resulting in their productivity taking a big hit.
Also, the 15+ migraine days have to repeat for more than three months to be termed chronic migraine. Despite this, medical researchers are yet to offer defined answers as to why people suffer from migraines and why they increase in intensity and frequency over time.
Some theories that seek to explain the causes of chronic migraines include:
- Genetics-if a close family member has experienced migraine headaches, you are likely more susceptible to migraines.
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Vascular irregularities in vessels to or inside your brain
- Traumatic brain injury
Often migraines are brought about by “triggers”—factors such as certain reactions, substance or environments that can set off a new migraine episode. These may include:
- Emotional distress- some people find that their migraines flare up when they are stressed or worried.
- Hormones- since women experience hormonal changes due to their menstrual cycles, they are often more susceptible to getting migraines during these times.
- Sensory simulation- flashing lights, loud music or strong odour can put stress on the sensory organs triggering a migraine episode.
- Shifts in weather- changes in temperature or humidity can trigger migraines in some individuals.
It’s important to note that triggers are different for each person, and no two people respond the same way to a trigger.
How to Reduce Chronic Migraines?
Below are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and intensity of chronic migraines.
- The pain caused by migraines gets worse the more physically active you are—so lying down for a while may help.
- Identify and avoid your most common migraine triggers. If eating certain foods often results in migraines, it’s best to avoid that specific food item.
- Migraine, similar to tension headaches, has been linked to stress. Making lifestyle changes that promote lower levels of stress might be not only beneficial with alleviating chronic migraine but it’s also generally good for your health.
- Depending on the migraine’s underlying course, your doctor may recommend certain medications to alleviate its severity.
- Botox, “the anti-ageing king,” is quickly becoming a popular alternative to treating some cases of chronic migraine.
- In some instances, chronic migraines go away on their own, never returning or reducing to episodic migraines.
How Botox is Used To Treat Chronic Migraines
Botox is often referred to at the “miracle anti-ageing drug,” but its uses are not limited only to cosmetic goals. At Dr Aesthetica, besides treating chronic migraines successfully with Botox, we have had outstanding results with our Botox treatments for Bruxism (painful teeth grinding) and Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). As you can see, Botox is suitable for more than getting rid of wrinkles. Multiple studies have shown that Botox can significantly reduce the frequency of chronic migraine headaches and do so with few and mild side effects.
But exactly how does it work to alleviate chronic migraines?
When injected in the strategically mapped out injection sites on the head, Botox over time blocks the neurotransmitters that transmit pain signals from your brain to the nerve endings around your head and neck. This effectively posts a stop to the pain caused by chronic migraines. Many people have reported their migraine days being slashed by more than 50% after getting Botox injections.
Are you interested in learning more about our Botox Treatment for Chronic Migraines? Please speak to one of our friendly staff today!