Well, a headache is not a headache is not a headache there are different headaches, and today on the scope how women's headaches differ from men's headaches and what you need to know and hopefully get some relief.
I'm a migrainer. A migrainer is a person who has migraine headaches and migraine headaches are much more common in women than they are in men. About 17% of women will have migraine so that makes it pretty common.
What are Migraines?
Migraines are a kind of headache that occur usually on one side of the head or the other. They may have some kind of aura, some kind of visual sign that the headache is coming and they can be quite intense. They usually don't last for days and days, but women have them more than men and there's relief out there.
So, how do you know you have migraine? Most women think any bad headache is a migraine but migraines are different from the other kind of headache that women get which is tension headaches. So a tension headache is felt more in the front of the head or the back of the head and it feels kind of like a band and we think its related more to muscle tension and it responds pretty well to ibuprofen. So clearly not all headaches are migraines.
Migraines used to be thought to be due to changes in the blood supply to the head but its not really that we still barely understanding it but it tends to be more on one side or the other and its got more visual problems associated with it more nausea and vomiting associated with it and its more likely to change with your period.
Women Have More Migraines than Men
So, why do women have more migraine than men? Well, migraines seems to be associated with ups and downs. Ups and downs in food ups and downs in sleep ups and downs in hormones. In the migraine world they call those triggers. What are your triggers for migraine? Women go up and down in their hormones and men don't usually men don't have periods. So women may have more migraine related to the ups and downs in their hormones.
Know Your Triggers and Treating Your Migraines
What do you do about it? First of all I think it's important to get a diagnosis. Do you have migraines? What are your triggers it could be a food, it could be alcohol, it could be sleep, it could be bright sunshine, it could be hormones. So it's important for women with migraine to know what their triggers are. Sunshine actually, bright sun, is a common trigger for many people. Sleeplessness is a common trigger and for women uniquely their menstrual cycle can be a common trigger. So it's important for women with migraine to know your triggers which can help prevent the migraine from coming if you take it early in the course of your headache or when you have that amazing aura.
So know your triggers, think about medications. There is some data that even low does aspirin taken everyday may help some women with migraine. The great news for women is the majority of women with migraine get better when they go through menopause. The perimenopause can be rocky for migrainers, with hormones going up and down. But, after menopause when hormones are down, the majority of migrainers have a decrease in their headaches and a decrease in their pain.
When to Seek Emergency Care for Your Migraines
If you have the worst headache of your life, a blinding headache associated with numbness or difficulty speaking or difficulty moving, this is an emergency and you need to go to the emergency room. But, there's medication to prevent them, and medication to treatment. You should be able to see your physician to talk about these things. There's good hope for the future.
updated: May 11, 2023
originally published: October 8, 2013
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