June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month
Dr. Tiffany Groen of Silver Cross Medical Group discusses Common Causes of headaches and migraines
It’s safe to say that almost every person has experienced a headache at one point in their life. Headaches are the most common form of pain and is one of the top reasons for individuals to miss work or school and seek medical advice. According to MedlinePlus, tension headaches are the most common type as they are created by tightened muscles in the shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. Tension headaches are often linked to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Another common type of headache is migraine. Migraines are a chronic, reoccurring headache that causes severe throbbing pain often on one side of the head. Migraines may also produce additional symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and weakness. With about 12% of Americans affected by migraines, June is observed as National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.
“I regularly treat headaches in my practice and find it very common to have mixed type headaches as well, with tension, migraine, and even sinus or allergy components,” says Dr. Tiffany Groen, Family Medicine Provider with Silver Cross Medical Group in New Lenox.
Migraines are most common in women, those who have a family history of migraine and/or have other psychological conditions and can be caused by several different factors. Researchers believe that migraines likely have a genetic cause, but the following can contribute to or trigger symptoms:
- Hormonal changes in women
- Bright or flashing lights
- Loud noises
- Strong smells
- Too much or not enough sleep
- Sudden changes in weather or environment
- Overexertion (too much physical activity)
- Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
- Skipped meals
- Medication overuse (taking medicine for migraines too often)
“For those that suffer from occasional or even daily headaches, I recommend focusing on good self-care, quality sleep, regular physical exercise and a healthy diet,” Dr. Groen says. “Many people do not realize that certain foods often trigger headaches, especially migraine type. It can be helpful to keep a food diary to identify triggers! Common ingredients, especially different additives like MSG, artificial sweeteners, dyes and nitrates found in processed foods are often the culprits.”
Not all headaches require a consultation from a medical professional, however, if you suddenly develop headaches or your headaches worsen it is best to see a doctor. Should you be diagnosed with migraines, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing future headaches. Your healthcare provider may prescribe different types of medicines to treat and prevent symptoms. You may also try resting in a quiet, dark room, placing a cool compress on your forehead and drinking fluids.
Dr. Tiffany Groen has been in practice for nearly a decade and her interests include community health, wellness, whole person care, fitness, and lifestyle medicine. She sees patients at Silver Cross Medical Group, located at 1851 Silver Cross Blvd., Suite 120, in New Lenox.