Five myths about headaches you need to know

Throbbing, distracting, annoying – all of us at some time have had to put up with a headache. And they seem to have a knack of coming on at the worse time.
From tension and cluster headaches to sinus headaches and migraines, each one is different. So uncovering these five widely held myths is a start to getting rid of them.

Myth #1

Migraines are the most common type of headache

Actually tension headaches are the most common type of headache. The reason they’re so common comes down to our modern lifestyle with bright lights, loud noises and stress. Stress can make muscles in the head and neck tense and knotted, and it’s these muscles that are the source of tension headache. You probably know the feeling of one of these headaches - a dull, aching pain on both sides of your head.

Myth #2

Only adults get headaches

Headaches aren’t just for grown-ups. Children get them too, including tension headaches – the only difference is they can’t tell you, especially young ones. Although they’re not always serious, it’s important to keep an eye on a child's headache and consult a doctor if they get worse.

Myth #3

Migraines are just really bad headaches

Not exactly true. Migraines are different to other headaches. They’re actually a neurological disorder and can feel much worse than your normal headache. The pain is mainly caused by the expansion of blood vessels in the head.

If you’re suffering from a migraine, you may get other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light. You might even experience visual problems known as auras and see flashing lights or zigzag lines.

Myth #4

Only women get recurring headaches

Guess what? We all get them. And while men are at less risk from tension headaches and migraines, they’re more likely to get cluster headaches[1]. These headaches get their name because you experience groups or clusters of headaches for several weeks, occurring once or twice a year around the same time. The pain’s usually felt behind your eye or on one side of your head coming on strong and unexpected.

Myth #5

All headaches are psychological

Most headaches usually are triggered by an underlying physical cause. Just like how the source of tension headaches are caused by muscles in the head and neck becoming stressed. They in turn send out pain signals that are felt on both sides of the head. It’s why tension headaches often feel like a tight band around your head.

If you’re experiencing one of these headaches, you might want to consider targeting the physical source of the pain by using a pain reliever such as Nurofen.

[1] Rozen, T. (2001). Cluster headache in women: clinical characteristics and comparison with cluster headache in men. Journal Of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry70(5), 613-617.

This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.

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