Women's Center

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The Pain of Headaches

Bylined by: Vincent Martin, MD, Professor of Medicine, Co-director, UC Headache and Facial Pain Program

It’s safe to say that almost everyone has experienced a headache. It’s one of the most common forms of pain and is also a major reason people miss days at work or school. For some, headaches can be common, quite painful and debilitating. I want to take a moment and share some general headache information for those of you suffering with either tension, migraine, cluster or sinus headaches.

What type of headache do you have?

Migraines. Women are three times more likely to suffer from this type of painful, debilitating headache. Migraines are distinguished from other headaches because of the symptoms other than pain that occur. Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and other visual symptoms can accompany the pain.  Migraine attacks occur during the menstrual period in two-thirds of women.

Tension Headache. This is the most common type of headache that’s often caused by stress and muscle tension. Symptoms can differ from person-to-person but most tension headache suffers experience a slow onset of the headache, pain on both sides of the head, dull pain that feels like a vice around the head, pain that can involve the back part of the head or neck and pain is generally mild to moderate but not severe.  These headaches tend to lack symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

Cluster Headache. More common in men than women, this type of headache usually occurs for a finite time period that may last weeks or months and these time periods of headache may return every year or two. Cluster headaches most commonly occur during the springtime due to the change in seasons.  Cluster headaches only occur on one side of the head and have severe pain intensity.  They are accompanied by other symptoms such as a runny nose, tearing of the eye, drooping of the eyelid and sweating of the forehead that occurs on the same side as the headache.

Sinus Headaches. These are associated with a deep and constant pain in the cheekbones, forehead, or bridge of the nose. The pain usually intensifies with sudden head movement or straining. The pain is usually accompanied by other sinus symptoms, such as nasal discharge, feeling of fullness in the ears, fever and facial swelling.

Easing Your Pain

Our main goal delivering headache treatment at the Women’s Center is to improve your quality of life by effectively diagnosing and managing your headache pain. As an internationally renowned headache specialist and co-director of the Headache and Facial Pain Program, at University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, my colleagues and I offer a personalized approach for women and men suffering from headaches. We understand that women have different headache triggers than men and also react differently to medication. Give us a call so we can make sure you get the right treatment to help you cope with your pain.

Treatment and Prevention: Self-care
• Apply a heat pack or ice pack to your head or neck
• Avoid things that are stressful
• Eat regular meals
• Exercise regularly
• Get enough rest and regular sleep

Complementary Therapies
• Acupuncture
• Cognitive behavior therapy
• Hypnosis
• Meditation

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