Headache and Migraine InformationTweet
Headaches are usually bi-lateral - they are felt on both sides of the head. The pain is continuous until relieved by medicine and often finked to common triggers such as tiredness, excess alcohol, menstruation etc. Although they may be severe they usually respond to over-the-counter pain killers. It is said that psychogenic headaches (possibly caused by depression) do not respond to painkillers. They may be linked to changes in natural endorphin levels.
Migraines are generally one-sided and the pain is throbbing - like a pulse. They occur with or without known triggers and may last for several days. They do not respond to regular painkillers. They are often preceded by warning signs - called auras by some. These include coldness and tingling around the mouth and in the hands, flashing lights, spots or wavy lines in the vision, which can be one-sided. These may be caused by ischaemia - reduced blood supply due to intense vasoconstriction - or by pressure of swollen tissue surrounding the nerve. Some time after the initial phase of cerebral vaso-constriction - contraction of blood vessels in the brain - an intense pain begins, usually in one area, often above the 'eye. This pain tends to pulsate for hours or days and is thought to be due to intense extra-cerebral vaso-dilation - expansion of blood vessels outside the brain. It is frequently accompanied by sweating, nausea and vomiting. Noise and light usually make migraines much worse. General 'fuzziness' and mild pain may persist for days after the main event has subsided.