Do you often suffer from headaches? Are their symptoms more like migraines? Can you get migraines without headaches? Get to know the differences between headaches and migraines so you can treat them more effectively.
Your head throbs and pounds. Headaches are very common, with around a third of all women and a quarter of all men in Switzerland suffering from headaches at least once a month. There are roughly 200 different types.
The most frequent types are:
These types of headache account for around 90% of all headaches. They are among the types known as “primary” headaches, which means they have their own separate pathology. Specialists talk about secondary headaches when they occur as concomitant symptoms of another illness, such as high blood pressure, the flu. And also medication or stimulants like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine.
Not every headache needs the same treatment. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between migraines and headaches or cluster headaches. The following characteristics can help with this:
In migraines without headaches, or silent migraines, those affected experience a migraine aura without headaches afterwards. In other words, they experience aura symptoms like visual impairments or sensory changes, but no headaches. This phase can last up to an hour. Normally, an aura turns into a headache. It's unclear why this headache stage doesn’t happen here. It’s also unclear why migraines without headaches occur increasingly with advanced age and in men.
The causes of migraines/headaches have not yet been fully established. Based on the fact that they are often experienced by multiple members of the same family, experts theorise that genetic factors, among others, may be involved. The triggers, on the other hand, are known; they vary in intensity from person to person. These are the most common triggers:
Sensitive people do not tolerate histamine and glutamate very well. For instance, coffee, alcohol and food with a lot of histamine (e.g. very mature cheeses, cured or smoked meats, soy sauce, tomatoes, chocolate, citrus fruits) can cause migraines.
We provide personal health recommendations on topics such as nutrition for migraines, suitable complementary therapies and relaxation techniques. Or how about a headache diary?
Migraine attacks may often be alleviated through behavioural changes. Read all about it here: tips for combating migraines. Tension headaches may be triggered by poor posture or tense jaw musculature. However, headaches can have multiple causes. Get to the bottom of them. Your GP will know the most suitable methods for prevention and treatment. And boost your overall well-being generally by reducing the typical triggers like stress, exercise and get enough sleep. Get inspired!
The expert provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Julia Pieh (doctorate in pharmacy and toxicology, pharmacist, naturopath) works in the Helsana Health Consultation Service. She helps customers on issues to do with pain and health promotion.
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