June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Did you know that migraines are a disabling disease that affects nearly 39 million people in the United States? While this disease may seem common, as one gets older, the frequency of headaches and migraines should decrease. If they do not, it may be time to speak to a healthcare professional.
The Difference Between Headaches and Migraines
According to the American Migraine Foundation, many often misdiagnose migraines as just bad headaches. However, migraines typically involve higher head pain lasting for more than four hours and are often on one side of the head. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, smells and sounds.
Symptoms of a Migraine:
While the symptoms mentioned above are the most common, there are other symptoms that help determine if you or a loved one is experiencing a migraine. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Neck pain
- Body chills
- Phantom smells
- Brain fog
- Sinus-like Issues
- Dizziness and Vertigo
- Mood Changes
Headaches & Migraines in Older Adults
Unlike in younger adults and youth, headaches and migraines in older adults can cause some reason to be concerned. Although a common headache is more normalized, the recognition of reoccurring/regular headaches or migraines can be linked to underlying or comorbid conditions.
While a headache is most likely a primary disorder (i.e. tension-type headache or migraine), there can be a higher percentage of cases that may be related to secondary causes such as giant cell arteritis, polypharmacy or even intracranial lesions.
While it is not a one-size-fits-all for this type of disease, it is important that you consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that there aren’t more serious issues at play.
How to Manage Your Headache or Migraine
If you or a loved one have experienced frequent headaches or migraines and secondary causes have been ruled out by your doctor or healthcare professional, there may be some lifestyle changes that can help.
- Get more sleep
- Begin a regular exercise routine
- Find new ways to reduce the stress in your life
- Monitor your surroundings and avoid environments that can cause headaches, such as bright lights, loud noises or even too much caffeine
- Ensure that you are eating a healthy diet
- Take over-the-counter medications
For more serious headaches or migraines, one should turn off the lights, apply a hot or cold compress to the head or neck and attempt drinking a caffeinated beverage. Sometimes, prescribed medications will also assist in alleviating some of the symptoms a migraine may cause.
This Headache and Migraine Month, Westminster at Home is doing its part, and you can too. Share this article with friends and family and let's raise awareness about migraines and other headache diseases. If you or a loved one is an aging adult experiencing frequent headaches or migraines, make sure you speak to a healthcare provider about your options and establish a health plan that works for you.