Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Headache is defined as a pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the brain because the brain itself has no nerves that give rise to the sensation of pain (pain fibers). The periosteum that surrounds bones; muscles that encase the skull, sinuses, eyes, and ears; and meninges that cover the surface of the brain and spinal cord, arteries, veins, and nerves, all can become inflamed or irritated to cause the pain of a headache. This pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, mild, or intense.
How are headaches classified?
In 2005, the International Headache Society released its latest classification system for headache. Because so many people suffer from headaches and because treatment sometimes is difficult, it was hoped that the new classification system would help health care professionals make a specific diagnosis as to the type of headache and allow better and more effective options for treatment.
There are three major categories of headache based upon the source of the pain:
secondary headaches; and
cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches.
Once a migraine headache is diagnosed (with other conditions ruled out), treatment can begin. Because the headaches are usually recurrent, there is not much distinction between treatment and prevention so treatments will include prevention methods.
There are many treatments for migraine headaches. Drugs are used but some treatments do not use drugs. Nondrug treatments include:
ice to the head,
smoking cessation, and
avoidance of your food and environmental triggers (for example, stress, flashing lights, and drinking red wine).