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Do I Have Migraine Headaches?
by: Dr. Larry A. Johnson, D.C.
If you have headaches and are wondering if they could be
migraine headaches we can probably help you figure that out.
There are some very distinctive characteristics of migraine
headaches that can differentiate migraines from other types of
headaches such as tension headaches, stress headaches, cluster
headaches or other types of headaches.

Migraine headaches are more often than not one-sided, meaning
the pain is felt on only one side of the head. Most of the time
the pain of a migraine headache can be felt in the temple area
or behind one of the eyes or ears. Migraine headaches can become
severe and disabling. Nausea is a common symptom of this type of
headache as is vomiting or sensitivity to light or sound. About
20% of patients with migraine headaches experience an aura. An
aura is a disturbance in vision that can consist of bright
blinking colored lights that move across the field of vision.

Migraine headaches can become chronic in nature. When they are
chronic the patient most commonly experiences them once or twice
a month. However, in some instances migraine headaches can occur
as often as once or twice a week. Migraine headaches affect
people between the ages of 15 and 55 and are more common in
women than in men. Migraines affect women about 3 times as often
as men.

Migraines affect about 30 or 40 million Americans, but they are
less common than tension headaches. It is estimated that about
75% of all headaches are tension headaches. Tension headaches
are typically characterized by a dull pain over the entire head
while migraines are usually throbbing in nature and located in
one particular spot. In other words, tension-type headaches are
a constant dull pain while migraines throb like the beating of
the heart.

Chronic tension headaches can occur every day while chronic
migraine headaches occur less often, usually once a week to once
a month. Fatigue and stress can cause both types of headaches,
but migraine headaches can be triggered by other factors such as
different types of food. Migraine headaches can sometimes be
helped by eliminating these triggers. Foods that may lead to
migraines include cheese, alcohol, MSG (monosodium glutamate),
nuts, beans, caffeine, chocolate, onions and others. Eliminating
the trigger may eliminate the migraines.

Cluster headaches are far less common than either migraine
headaches or tension-type-headaches. Men are about six times
more likely than women to experience cluster headaches. The pain
of a cluster headache starts quickly, without any warning, and
typically reaches its peak between two and fifteen minutes.

The pain of a cluster headache can be extremely intense, deep
and explosive. Migraines are usually "pulsing" while clusters
are not. Between 10 and 20 percent of cluster patients have
"ice-pick" or "stabbing" pain around the eyes. This stabbing
pain typically lasts for a few seconds, but can occur several
times in succession. When this sudden attack of intense pain
occurs it usually means that the headache is near its end.

For natural migraine headache relief it is often beneficial to
relax and rest. Sometimes lying in a dark room with an ice pack
on the base of the skull can reduce the pressure that is felt in
the head. The same treatment can also help tension or stress
headaches. Reducing stress can go a long way to relieving many
headache symptoms.

If you experience chronic headaches and over-the-counter
medication or natural remedies do not help it may be wise to
consult a physician.

About the author:
Dr. Larry A. Johnson, D.C. has patented a popular chiropractor-recommended headache cushion for the home treatment and relief of tension and migraine headaches. Visit more information.

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