Good Example Of Research Paper On The Differences And Similarities Between Migraines
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and Tension Headaches
Headaches are defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “an ache or pain in the head” (Headache), but for anyone who has had an encounter with a headache, they are much more than just a pain. Headaches are a source of dread for any person dealing with them. Headaches are continuous annoyances to daily life and can affect the way a person functions and also affect their work and personal life, but there are more than just one type of headache and each headache differs from another. Tension headaches and Migraines both have the resources to wreak havoc on someone’s day, but there are varying dissimilarities in each type of headache. The one true similarity between them both is they are not enjoyable to any party that has one.
A tension headache is caused by muscle contractions according to the National Institutes of Health Magazine (2009). It has been reported that 90% of all headaches that occur are tension headaches (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Tension headaches are brought on by stress or stressful situations and create a feeling of a tightening or tensing of the muscles around the face, of the neck, and the back of the head (Headache Symptoms, 2009). The Mayo Clinic Staff describes a tension headache as a “mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head”. Tension headaches have been placed into two categories, episodic and chronic; episodic lasting less than fifteen days out of the month, and chronic lasting more than fifteen days out of the month (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013). The Mayo Clinic (2013) reports that stress is the number one reason for inducing a tension headache. Symptoms of a tension headache include a dull, aching pain with pressure across the forehead and other parts of the face and head as well as a sensitive scalp, and painful neck and shoulder muscles (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013).
A Migraine is reported to be a vascular type of headache, caused by an “abnormal functioning of the brain’s blood vessels” (Headache Symptoms, 2009). A migraine is the most common type of vascular headache, and varies in the way it affects a person (Headache Symptoms, 2009). With the inclusion of the head pain that is usual in the case of any type of headache, a migraine’s symptoms include severe throbbing pain on one of both sides of the head (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Migraines also cause the afflicted person to have an upset stomach and to vomit or nausea or dizziness (Migraines & Headaches, 2015). A sensitivity to light, noise, or smells can also occur in people suffering from migraines (Migraines & Headaches, 2015). Another effect of a migraine is flashing dots or wavy lines in front of one’s eyes or blurry vision (Migraines & Headaches, 2015). Those exhibiting signs of a migraine can also look pale, be fatigued, have a loss of appetite as well as extreme sensations of feeling hot or cold (Migraines & Headaches, 2015).
Experts in the field of headache and migraine studies think that an unusual occurrence in the brain’s nerve cell activity and blood flow are the cause of migraines (Migraines & Headaches, 2015). There are clinical trials and studies being done to try and figure out the root of what causes headaches (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Experts are thinking that genetics may play a role in headache persisting through generations of families, as they are looking into gene mutations as a potential cause for headaches (Headache Symptoms, 2009). The Mayo Clinic Staff (2013), state that those who are middle aged, in their forties, and women are the ones most at risk for having headaches. All headaches have a severe effect on the quality of life for any individual suffering from them, as well as their ability to perform normal daily tasks (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013). There is also a theory of the Mayo Clinic Staff (2013) on a cause of headaches is that “heightened sensitivity to pain in people who have tension headaches and possibly a heightened sensitivity to stress”, in saying that any person that has a high stress level has a relation to a higher sensitivity to pain and thus causing a direct correlation between stress level, pain tolerance and headache endurance.
Migraines tend to hurt the entire top of the head and move from the front of the head toward the back of the head in a severe pulsing, throbbing pain (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Tension headaches tend to attack the lower back of the head and the neck area and the muscles surrounding the head including the shoulders (Headache Symptoms, 2009). The pain differences in a migraine and a tension headache are slight, but the causes and the side effects between both differ greatly. Tension headaches as well as migraines can be recurrent and occur quite often, and the pain from both can be mild to moderate in the level of pain (Madell, 2013). The migraine, however, tends to be one sided, and affect one side of the head or the other, even though it can affect the entire head, including the area behind the eyes (Madell, 2013). Tension headaches are usually a minor pulsing pain that distracts one from going about daily business, but a migraine can go from minor pain, to a severe, crippling pain that requires one to lay down and not move in order to endure it (Madell, 2013).
Another contrasting trait of migraines and tension headaches is the way the way they react to treatment and medication to help the pain (Madell, 2013). Most medications that aid in a decrease of pain for migraines do not work when dealing with a tension headache, however, some pain relievers do work for both tension headaches as well as migraines to help dull the pain (Madell, 2013). Over the Counter (OTC) pharmaceutical pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be used to alleviate pain from a tension headache and sometimes a migraine (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013). Other tension headache treatments involve prescription remedies such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxers to help the body relax and keep from stressing out, the root cause of a tension headache (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013).
Seeing a doctor is one way to be sure to tell the difference between a tension headache and a migraine, because a correct diagnosis is the only way to successful treatment (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013). Describing the location of the pain, whether or not the pain is pulsing, throbbing, or stabbing as well as explaining the intensity of the pain is important to the difference between a tension headache and a migraine (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2013). According to the National Institues of Health Magazine (2009), anyone enduring a headache more than three times per month should see a doctor for potential treatment. Stress reduction and diet can help with controlling headaches (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Anyone with a sudden onset of a severe headache that occurs with a stiff neck, fever, convulsions, confusion, or eye and ear pain should be treated medically immediately as these headaches may be warning signs of something worse than just a headache (Headache Symptoms, 2009). Home remedies can also help in the alleviation of pain from tension headaches and migraines such as an ice pack to the forehead or the back of the neck, massage, or a warm shower or bath (Migraines & Headaches, 2015).
The differences between migraines and tension headaches are severe enough to notice, but both should be treated by medical professionals. The side effects of migraines affect daily life and can disable a person for the duration of the migraine. A persistent tension headache can affect one’s work performance and daily activities. Both types of headaches, although both caused by different reactions in the human body, are not just an “ache or pain in the head” (Headache), they affect personal lives and studies are being conducted throughout the world to help better understand the causes of tension headaches and migraine headaches.
Headache. (n.d.) Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved from http://www.merriam webster.com/dictionary/headache
Headache Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment. (2009). NIH Medline Plus, 4, 2, 18-19. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring09/articles/ spring09pg18-19.html
Madell, R. (2013, Mar. 27). Migraine vs. Headache: Hot to Tell Them Apart. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/migraine/migraine-vs-headache#Overview1
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013, Jul. 16). Tension Headache. Retrieved from http://www. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tension-headache/basics/definition/con 20014295
Migraines & Headaches Health Center. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com /migraines-headaches/
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