Headaches are a common problem and can take the form of tension headaches, migraines, or in some cases, the manifestation of an underlying disease. Frequent headaches should be taken seriously and never brushed off an stress.
Rule-Out Underlying Causes
If you are having more than the occasional headache, it is important to speak with your family doctor for a battery of tests and possibly a referral to a neurologist for brain condition treatment. It is easy to blame stress, but in some cases of frequent headaches, chronic diseases or other medical conditions can be the cause.
One of the most common underlying conditions that may cause headaches is hypertension. Many people have critically high blood pressure before it is ever diagnosed, which can lead to stroke or organ damage. As part of your testing, your doctor will want to check your blood pressure, blood glucose, and likely have blood work and a urinalysis done. Other problems that may be easy to fix are changes in your visual acuity. Yearly eye exams are important not only for seeing clearly, but to catch serious eye problems before you risk losing your vision.
Taking notes about the headaches you experience and other factors in your life that may contribute to them can help you and your doctors pinpoint the problem. If you received a referral to a neurologist, the doctor will likely want to know about your medical history and want you to explain the type of headaches you experience.
Information such as describing the pain and if there are additional symptoms that occur during headaches can make it easier to reach a diagnosis. For example, migraines often have a characteristic feel, but can be overlooked because they do not always present with the classic aura. Make sure to mention problems with nausea, vomiting, and/or neurological symptoms that occur with your headache. When the headache occurs may also provide useful clues. Headaches that are worse at night or wake you up from your sleep can be indicative of a tumor.
Make Lifestyle Modifications
Regardless of the type of headache you are experiencing, most types can benefit from some form of lifestyle modification. A major culprit that can bring on tension headaches or migraines, or make any headache worse is stress. Finding ways to reduce the stress in your life in a constructive manner should be part of your headache management goals.
Consider using exercise, art, music, or reading as a way to decompress. It may be helpful to have a toolkit ready to manage headaches. In addition to keeping doses of medication readily available, you may find that earplugs, sunshades, cold therapy, or a soothing scent can decrease the intensity or duration of some headaches.
Taking frequent headaches seriously begins with finding out the underlying cause. Once the problem is diagnosed, you can begin developing a treatment plan that may help reduce the frequency and/or make them less intrusive.