A Pharmacist's Guide to Headaches and Migraines

A Pharmacist's Guide to Headaches and Migraines

More than six million Australians suffer from headaches and migraines. From tension headaches to cluster pains, head pain is one of the most common health problems doctors and healthcare professionals treat. With National Headache Awareness Week on March 9-13, Discount Drug Stores' pharmacist, Melissa Hui, shares four insights on headaches to help shine a light on the illness impacting many Australians and how they can manage their pain.

Headaches vs. migraines
Many people describe moderate to severe headaches as migraines, however there are specific criteria used to differentiate the two.

"Tension headaches can be momentarily debilitating to a patient, but they cause little risks. These types of headaches can often be felt on both sides of the head as a pressing or tightening sensation and won't be made worse by physical activity," said Ms Hui.

"On the other hand, migraines are a neurological disorder that is often disabling. Migraines can be defined by a pulsating feeling on one side of the head. The feeling of a migraine can be severely intense when aggravated by physical activity and can lead to waves of nausea."

Varieties of head pain
There are over thirty types of head pain that can be experienced in the form of pulses, throbs, and piercing pains. It is essential to identify what variety you are experiencing to help alleviate the issue appropriately.

Cluster headaches are also a common head pain, which causes a considerable amount of pain around one eye, resulting in a drooping eyelid, a watery eye and nasal congestion.

"If you are experiencing re-occurring head or facial pain, it's vital that you see a trusted healthcare practitioner to determine what's triggering this condition and how it can be alleviated," said Ms Hui.

"One way to manage this is to ask your pharmacist to review your pain management plan to ensure your medication is right for you. Discount Drug Stores qualified pharmacists can offer you a pathway to access support and manage your condition through pain management consults."

What causes head tensions?
While there are many factors that can cause a migraine or headache, triggers are not the same for everyone; diet, physical activity, environmental factors, emotions and medications can all have an impact.

"While genetics can be one of the reasons for head pains, the way our brain's nerves communicate while we are eating and exercising, can make us more sensitive to headaches and migraines."

Globally, around 70 per cent of migraine sufferers are women, with many head tensions being triggered by a variety of elements including food intolerances, weather changes, lack of sleep and hormonal cycles.

"In women, migraine frequency and severity are affected by hormones and often change during adolescence, pregnancy, and menopause. Head tensions are likely to increase during reproductive years and decreases around menopause," said Ms Hui.

Coping and managing pain
Ms Hui says it's important to know how to manage headache pain by putting lifestyle and behavioural measures in place. While heat packs and cold press towels can relieve tension, there are preventative measures that can also be taken.

"Research suggests that maintaining a healthy body through whole foods and exercise can reduce headache and migraine attacks in some people. By doing light cardio activities, drinking around 1.2 litres of water every day and avoiding caffeinated beverages, the occurrence of head tensions can decrease," Ms Hui said.

"I also encourage those who suffer from headaches to keep a headache diary - recording the details of the attacks can be useful to make an informed diagnosis and help recognise the trigger factors and warning signs. Key points to record include when the headache started, the pain level and the pain type, be it throbbing, piercing or coming in waves."

Ask your pharmacist to help you identify simple lifestyle changes which might help you to reduce the frequency or severity of your headaches. Discount Drug Store pain management service is helping patients upgrade their armour against persistent pain including headaches and migraines. Consultations are run by qualified pharmacists and can help you better manage symptoms and potentially treat the underlying cause of persistent pain. Bookings for the service can be made online or in-store.

For more information on how to best handle your headache pain, visit www.discountdrugstores.com.au or your local Discount Drug Stores.

Photo by Bibarys Ibatolla on Unsplash