Are my headaches normal?

Headaches are common for many people and are known to be triggered by many different situations.  While we talk about them often, it’s a good idea to be aware of the types of headaches that are not normal, or the numerous triggers that can cause common headaches to develop so that you can avoid more pain in the future.

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How often is it normal to get headaches?


It's considered normal to have 2-3 headaches a month. Headaches considered normal feel like tension and mild to moderate pain, usually in the front, back, or all over the head. Sometimes headaches are focused on the sinus regions, which are in the face, causing uncomfortable pressure and pain around the eyes, nose, forehead, and sometimes teeth.


What is a migraine headache?


Migraines are considerably more severe than regular headaches and can strike at any time. Those who suffer from migraines experience debilitating pain, sometimes accompanied by nausea. Migraines are typically experienced on only one side of the head at a time and cause visual disturbances such as blurring or a halo effect. While most migraines last less than a full day, some can last for several days or even weeks.

For those with migraines, there are some treatments available, such as medications and dietary changes. When a migraine strikes, sufferers are advised to drink plenty of water with electrolytes and lie down in a dark and quiet room.


What can cause headaches and migraines?


There are many causes of headaches, and some people experience them often enough to be able to tell what exactly caused the type of pain they're feeling.

Dehydration is a significant cause of headaches, so drinking enough water through the day is important. Caffeine withdrawal is also a trigger, so if you're a coffee drinker make sure to get your first cup in early. If you're trying to quit or reduce coffee, be prepared with extra aspirin.

Some people have food-related headaches, such as a reaction to chocolate, onions, and wine.

Even certain hormone imbalances or shifts in the weather can trigger a headache or a migraine, so sometimes chasing the pain is the only option.


How can I help prevent future headaches and migraines?


Since there are so many triggers for this type of pain, knowing how your body reacts is important, so pay attention to what may be causing yours, to avoid it in the future.

Drink plenty of water, and add an electrolyte mix especially if you exercise or are under stress. Eat whole foods free of artificial flavorings and preservatives, as some people get migraines from additives such as MSG.

If you are currently on regular medication to treat migraines, remember to take every dose on time, since skipping medication can cause the pain to return.

Make sure to get enough sleep for your body, since rest allows your body to relax and heal through the night. Reduced sleep can be a cause for headaches.


What are some alternative ways to treat migraines and headaches?


Some home treatments have been shown to be effective in both preventing and reducing the pain of headaches and migraines.

Managing and reducing stress is the biggest recommendation since stress has so many adverse effects on the body and can cause lots of pain just by itself. Acupuncture is effective as a treatment, and massage can be as well. Chiropractic treatment is effective for some people, and there are aromatherapy scents that some people swear by for headache relief. Numerous herbal treatments are often made into teas that can help provide relief, and these focus on reduction of pain and helping the body to relax.


This is the worst headache of my life! Help!


If you experience extreme pain, and can only describe the intensity as "the worst headache of your life," you may need to seek immediate medical assistance. This type of pain is not normal in either headaches or migraines, and it can be a symptom of something more serious, such as a stroke.

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