Many medical myths have been debunked in recent years; but when it comes to common headache conditions, many popular beliefs are still accepted as facts. While more research still needs to be done to determine the actual cause of certain headache conditions, enough information has come to light in order to dispel a lot of popular myths that people believe in.
The second half of the top ten list of headache myths are just as popular as the first five myths which were discussed in a previous blog entry. Here are the rest of the top 10 headache myths people still believe to be true.
6. All severe headaches are migraines. It is common to hear a person who experiences a really painful headache to say, “I have a migraine.” While migraine headaches are quite common, not every severe headache is a migraine. The pain experienced for each type of headache is different from one another. A stress headache, for example, begins where the neck meets the head and feels like an invisible vice is putting pressure around the head. People with migraines, on the other hand, feel a throbbing, pulsating pain on one side of the head. A trip to the doctor can enlighten you about what type of headache you’re experiencing.
7. Recurring headaches only happen to women. Women don’t have a monopoly over recurring headaches or chronic headache conditions. Migraine headaches are a form of chronic headaches that most commonly affect women, but men and children can suffer from this condition, too. Other recurring headache conditions such as stress headaches and cluster headaches can affect men as much as they do to women, sometimes even more so.
8. Severe, recurring headaches mean one has a brain tumor. If you’ve been watching too much hospital drama shows on TV, then you may be one of those who believe in this myth. The truth is, before a doctor or headache specialist even considers the possibility of a brain tumor, they need to see other symptoms that coincide with severe and chronic headaches. Roughly 130 people are diagnosed with a variety of primary or secondary headache conditions in the US each year, only a small percentage of that number have brain tumors as the cause of the pain.
9. Headaches don’t affect a person’s quality of life. It’s easy for people who don’t suffer from debilitating headache conditions to dismiss headaches as something that can easily be managed, controlled, or avoided. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone. Patients diagnosed with certain headache types experience severe pain that can debilitate even those who have a high tolerance for pain. These conditions can be managed by taking specialized medications or going through a lifestyle change, but they can still affect the way a person lives his or her life.
10. Caffeine always helps with headache relief. Many people believe this myth because it is an active ingredient in some over-the-counter pain killers. In small doses, caffeine can help relieve acute headache conditions, but if used for recurring headache conditions, it might make the pain worse. Caffeine is known to dilate blood vessels, and if taken in large doses, that extra cup of coffee you’re taking may be causing the pain instead of relieving it.
The best way to find out whether or not what we believe to be true about headaches are facts is to talk to a doctor. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches or headaches that are unusual or not like the headaches you normally experience, don’t rely on myths to help you get relief. A headache specialist can help you determine the cause of your pain and give you the treatment you need.