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Headaches can be a pain to deal with, and unfortunately, almost everyone has experienced one in their lifetime. According to the World Health Organization, around 50% of adults have experienced headaches worldwide, while the Migraine Research Foundation states that migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world. 

Headaches are more frequent in some people than others, and while we all have experienced them, most people don’t fully understand why we get them or what we can do about them. We often just accept them as another part of life. So, it’s time to get some answers: 

Why do we get headaches? 

There are a variety of reasons why we get headaches; there isn’t just one reason. It could be because of lifestyle, an outside factor, stress or even something we’ve eaten. Headaches happen when our blood vessels and muscles begin to swell, tighten and put pressure on the nerves surrounding them. According to Meridien Research, there are 150 types of headaches, but they are separated into three different categories, Primary, Secondary and Other: 

  • Primary are headaches that are not caused by another condition. Examples of these are migraines or tension headaches.
  • Secondary are headaches that are symptoms of another condition, such as head trauma, loud noises, drinking too much alcohol or coffee. 
  • The Other category is for headaches caused by problems with the brain such as disease or lesions. 

What are migraines? 

Unfortunately, migraines affect many people. Around 12% of people suffer from migraines in the United States. It is seen as a neurological disease, and for many who experience it, it can worsen with light, sounds, smells and even physical activity. In some cases, migraines last for hours or sometimes even days. Those who have experienced migraines can tell when they are coming due to seeing light spots or flashing in their vision. Migraines can cause nausea, tiredness, and in some cases, loss of vision

What can we do about them?

Fortunately, most headache sufferers find that taking over the counter medication offers pain relief, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, which have a sufficient way of treating headaches. Others find that sleeping or eating can also help with their headaches. However, for more prominent headache treatments, they will have to seek help from their medical physician. 

This would be the case for people who experience migraines. They are given medication that can help stop migraines before they start or give preventative medicine that lessens the frequency of attacks. 

When is it time to contact a doctor? 

The best time to seek help for your headaches is if you are experiencing a headache that you have never experienced before. If you show neurological symptoms that you haven’t had previously, such as balance issues, difficulty speaking or lack of vision. You should also seek medical help if you have a headache after a head injury or if your headache pattern and frequency has changed. 

If you are experiencing headaches and want to learn more about the best treatment for you, it is worth speaking to your healthcare provider.

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