FAQs / stats
|1. How prevalent are headaches?|
|see statistics section for Australian statistics.|
2. What causes Headaches?
There are many different causes of headaches; put simply-anything which causes irritation to the nerves around the face, head, neck, or even inside the skull, can cause pain in the head. These may include: dental problems, neck strain, eyestrain, eye diseases, jaw problems, blood pressure problems, ear/nose or throat problems, muscular tension... e.t.c. So you can see, there are many different causes,and this is why they should always be investigated by the appropriate trained professional(s) - especially if they persist, worsen, or begin suddenly. Migraines often have similiar causes, and many patients suffer both; with headaches often progressing to migraines. For more information, see the head illustration on the home page and roll over the areas you want to know more about.
3. Does stress cause Headaches
Stress is associated with a number of different types of headaches, and often is cited by patients as an aggravating factor to their attacks. Whether stress alone is enough to induce an attack of head-pain, is debatable; but it is thought that stress may have an effect on the nervous system, altering it's control of muscle tone and pain tolerance. Also release of certain 'stress' (adrenaline, cortisol) chemicals may have an effect on blood flow and central nervous system excitability.
4. Can Headaches be treated?
Most headaches are due to non life threatening causes and can be relieved through appropriate treatment. It is always important to have them thoroughly investigated through consultation with your family doctor, and any specialists that may have unique insight into specific areas that your doctor believes need further investigating. Through following this simple model, the causes and aggravating factors can often be identified, and then addressed through the appropriate treatment(s). It should also be noted that there is often more than one factor involved in patient's headaches and it may be necessary to consult more than one practitioner to gain the necessary expertise and treatment to properly address the head-pain.
Does a more Severe Headache mean a more Severe problem?
Often a severe headache can be alarming to a patient, but there are no simple guidelines to follow here. This is why it is very important to have all headaches thoroughly diagnosed by experts, as even mild ones can herald major problems. Fortunately however, once diagnosed, the majority of headaches are quite treatable; and not due to serious problems.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS
See Treatments Section
- What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a type of headpain/headache which is usually severe, and involves the blood supply to the head. The pain is usually one sided and may swap sides during an attack; or even from one attack to the next. The exact cause(s) of migraines are not yet fully understood, but much is known about the multitude of aggravating factors and triggers.
- What is an Aura?
Aura is a phenomenon usually found in conjunction with 'Classic Migraine', in which the onset of pain is preceded by visual, sensory, motor, or speech symptoms. These can include 'blind spots', flashing lights, numbness in the extremities or face, weakness or heaviness of the muscles, or limbs; and difficulties with speech and articulating the spoken word. It is believed that Aura arise due to lack of blood flow in and around the brain, due to constriction of these blood vessels.
- What is Rebound Headache?
Rebound headache is a phenomenon usually associated with withdrawal from certain substances; whereby the actual withdrawal precipitates a headache or migraine. Rebound headaches can occur after withdrawal from a number of substances including caffeine, and it is best to check with your family doctor if you suspect that your headpain may be due to rebound.
- What is a Trigger?
Triggers can include many different stimuli, from various classes of foods, to certain smells, even stress, heat and cold, and skipping meals. Hormonal fluctuations can also act as triggers. The main point to note is that triggers are provoking factors, and not the actual cause of the migraine attack itself.
- Who are some famous sufferers?
Past and present, sufferers have included: Cleopatra, Peter the Great, Charles Darwin, Joan of Arc, and Princess Margaret.
- When was the earliest diagnosis?
The first description of headache involving half the head was by Aretaeus of Cappodocia (now part of Turkey) in about 80 AD. Earlier descriptions of Migraine-like headaches go back to 1500 BC.
- Do Genetics play a role?
There is about a 50 % chance of a migraine sufferer's child or sibling suffering migraines. It is also worth mentioning that the age of onset and the triggers may vary from one family member to another.
- Do Hormones play a role?
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle do have an effect on a large proportion of women sufferers especially immediately preceding menstruation, or in the mid-cycle phase. Migraines can also occur at other times throughout the cycle, and during periods of change in the cycle, such as menopause, or during pregnancy. One theory on this issue is that a fall in oestrogen reduces the function of certain nerve transmitters in the central nervous system, increasing the liklihood of an attack. The frequency of attacks often lessens with the end of menopause, or may even disappear all together. Sometimes on-going sufferers are able to benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy. See the section on Hormones under Other problems, on the head roll-over.
- Who suffer more, Men or Women?
Women are more than twice as likely to suffer from migraine than men.
- Is Migraine common in Children?
The exact figures for this have not been extensively researched, but some members of the medical community believe the incidence may be as high as one in ten. More generally, it has been shown that 21% of sufferers in Australia, are under the age of 10 when they have their first attack. Also of interest, is that in this age group- boys suffer as much as girls. With children, an attack may be severe, but will probably last a shorter time than in adults.
See Treatments Section
How Prevalent Are Headaches & Migraines?
Nearly all of us will suffer headaches during our lifetimes. In australia nearly 15% of the population were taking medication for headaches, according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 1995.
According to this same survey, headaches were the "most commonly reported individual recent illness condition"; in addition the survey also states that "persons aged 25-44 years were more likely to report headaches than persons in other age groups".
2.2 million people reported headaches beginning in recent times, and 22,000 reported headaches occuring over the longer term, all due to "unspecified or trivial causes".
There are many different causes for headaches, and this is the most likely reason why they are so common.
Although less frequent in prevalence, migraines will affect around 5% of the male population, and 15% of the female population (this varies for different populations and countries around the world).
It is thought that more women suffer migraines than men due to hormonal factors, and certainly there is evidence to suggest that levels of oestrogen and progesterone do play a role; but there is still much controversy over exactly how this occurs; and it would also seem that hormones alone are not enough to cause most sufferers to have a migraine.
Migraines also have a number of different causes; and it would seem that in most cases a number of these causes may interact to produce a migraine attack.
See Treatments Section