Two general types of headaches exist: primary (like migraines and cluster headaches) and secondary (headaches caused by a structural problem, trauma, or infection) Triggers include stress, lack of sleep, not enough food or fluids, and many other causes. A variety of medications all working through a variety of different mechanisms are used to treat migraines.
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CAM for Migraine and Cluster HeadachesMigraine headaches are intense, recurring headaches that are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. Alternative therapies that have proven successful for some include: spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and homeopathy. It is important to do research on the practitioner and make sure alternative therapies don't do harm.
BOTOX InjectionsBotulinum toxin (BOTOX) is a material that has been known for over a century and used for medical purposes for more than 50 years. Botox injections can improve and relax frown lines.
Medical AcupunctureThe practice as acupuncture consists of placing fine steel needles placed through the skin and into nodes mapped out in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture was recognized as a legitimate medical practice by the FDA in the 1990s. Independently licensed physicians practice acupuncture for various types of symptom relief.
Chronic PainChronic pain is pain that persists for a period of six months or longer, and is the result of a long-standing medical condition(s) or damage to the body. Common sources of chronic pain include headaches, back pain, and arthritis. There are several types of pain including general somatic pain, visceral pain, bone pain, muscle cramps, neuropathy, circulatory problems, and headache pain. Chronic pain may be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Cluster Headache FAQsCluster headaches are uncommon, but they come in groups and are characterized by intense pain, usually focused around one or both eyes. The cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but they can be treated with a variety of medications.
Cluster HeadacheCluster headaches are different that typical headaches or migraines in that they begin intensely and last from 5 minutes to an hour. They may come several times during the day, punctuated by painless periods. The cause is unclear, but competing theories trace this type of headache to either a malfunctioning vascular system in the brain, or a malfunctioning neurological symptom in the brain. A variety of drugs is used to treat cluster headaches.
CT ScanWhat is a CT scan? Computerized tomography scans (CT scans) are important diagnostic tools for a variety of medical conditions. Some areas of the body frequently evaluated by CT scans include the brain, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and sinuses. The CT scan process uses X-rays and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abdomen, and pelvis. MRI is a very safe procedure; sedation may be used for infants, small children, or adults who are claustrophobic.
Migraine and Cluster Headache MedicationsMigraines and cluster headaches are severe recurrent headaches. Medications to treat them fall under a number of different categories. These include triptans and ergot alkaloids for abortive therapy. For preventative therapy, a number of different drug classes are available, including beta blockers, predisone, antidepressants, lithium, antiseizure medications and others.
Migraine HeadacheMigraine headaches are one of the most common problems seen by doctors, Urgent Care Centers, and Emergency Departments. While the exact cause of this type of headache is not clearly understood, researchers and doctors believe they are due to changes in the brain and surrounding blood vessels.Triggers for migraine headache are certain foods (chocolate, cheese, alcohol, msg, etc.), stress, birth control pills, and smoking.Signs and symptoms of a migraine include a variety of warning signs (referred to as “prodome”), for example, feeling "high," irritable, or depressed, migraine aura, headache pain, and migraine pain that resolves. Other migraine symptoms, for example, problems eating, concentrating, and fatigue may linger after the pain is gone.
Migraine Headaches, Vision EffectsMigraines are severe, recurrent headaches that usually affect one side of the head. Many times, symptoms include visual affects like auras or scotomas (a blank patch in the field of vision). Treatment for visual effects of migraines includes a number of drugs used to treat a migraine as a whole, as well as adequate sleep and exercise.
Mitral Valve ProlapseMitral valve prolapse (MVP, click-murmur syndrome, Barlow syndrome) is a condition in which parts of the mitral valve in the heart are too large. Because of this, the valve closes unevenly, causing backwards leaking of blood. This serious condition, which may be inherited, can cause symptoms of chest pain, palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, and others. Treatment includes beta blockers, avoiding stimulants, and occasionally surgery.
Spinal TapA spinal tap is a procedure performed when a doctor needs to look at the cerebrospinal fluid (also known as spinal fluid). Spinal tap is also referred to as a lumbar puncture. Spinal tap risks include headache, herniation, bleeding, and an epidermoid cyst.
Tension HeadacheHeadaches are among the most common complaints worldwide. Though headaches are common symptoms of many diseases, tension-type headaches have specific characteristics, such as a tightening feeling on both sides of the head; sensitivity to light or sound; and other hallmarks. Treatment typically includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).
Worst Headache of Your LifeThe worst headache of your life may be a life-threatening emergency. Symptoms such as a headache with fever and a stiff neck, a headache that starts with a thunderclap, a headache following a head injury, a headache with loss of vision or numbness of the arms or legs, or a headache with a fever (not caused by the flu) are emergent medical conditions. Treatment of the worst headache of your life depends on the cause of the headache.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanner that takes cross-sectional images of the body. It is used to evaluate tissues of the head, neck, chest, limbs, abdomen, and pelvis. MRI is a very safe procedure; sedation may be used for infants, small children, or adults who are claustrophobic.
Expert Views and News
- The Headache Most Often Misdiagnosed
- FDA Approves Third of New Migraine Drugs
- Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation for Migraine
- Migraine Tied to Hypertension Risk in Women
- Outpatient Program Improves Function in Headaches
- Migraines With Aura May Raise Stroke Risk
- First Medical Device to Prevent Migraine Headaches
- Migraine Triggers May Not Always Trigger Migraines
- Botox Only Modestly Effective for Migraines
- Migraine Guidelines Focus on Prevention
- Migraines Linked to Depression
- Obesity, Smoking Linked to Teen Migraines
- Sleeplessness Triggers 'Migraine' Proteins
- Migraines Linked to Heart Attack Risk
Migraine and Related Headaches Topic Guide - Medications and Vitamins
Eletriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Eletriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache pain,...learn more »
Frovatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Frovatriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache p...learn more »
Almotriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Almotriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache pai...learn more »
Rizatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows the blood vessels around the brain. Rizatriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache...learn more »
Naratriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Naratriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache pai...learn more »
Zolmitriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Zolmitriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache p...learn more »
Codeine is an opioid pain medication. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of codeine...learn more »
Phenylephrine is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. Dilated blood vessels can cause nasal congestion (stuffy nose)...learn more »
Sumatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Sumatriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache pai...learn more »
Prochlorperazine is a phenothiazine (FEEN-oh-THYE-a-zeen) antipsychotic medicine...learn more »
Ergotamine is in a group of drugs called ergot alkaloids (ER-got AL-ka-loids). It works by narrowing the blood vessels around the brain. Ergotamine also af...learn more »