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What's causing my headaches?

Headaches take numerous forms and have a variety of causes. Common triggers for headaches include:

  • Colds and flu
  • Sinusitis
  • Fevers
  • Tiredness
  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Blows to the head

There are also conditions like trigeminal and occipital neuralgia that involve specific nerves in your head and cause shooting, shock-like pain.

Other types of headaches don't have such obvious causes. The most common type of recurring headache is a migraine.

What are migraine headaches?

Migraine headaches are episodes of intense pain that are often worse on one side of your head. In addition to the severe pain, migraines can cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulties speaking
  • Numbness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

You might get visual disturbances such as flashing lights or lines and spots in front of your eyes. This is known as an aura, and it can act as a warning sign that a migraine is on the way or be present at the same time as the pain.

Some people have migraines infrequently, with gaps of months and even years between attacks. Others have them regularly, and a significant minority experience 15 migraines or more every month.

During a migraine, the symptoms may be so disabling you can barely move or function, and working or performing everyday activities is impossible.

What can I do about my headaches?

If your headache is a result of dehydration, then rehydrating your body by drinking water should resolve the problem. Everyday headaches due to stress and muscle tension can be managed by finding ways to relax, and illnesses like flu usually pass within a week or two.

In all these cases, over-the-counter medications can be effective in relieving headaches. However, for more serious conditions like migraines, they're rarely as helpful. Ventura Neuroscience Center offers a range of therapies that can help with these severe headaches.

What treatments can help with severe headaches?

There are various prescription medications that your provider can offer you to reduce pain from severe headaches. There are also drugs that help to stop migraines from developing if you take them at the first signs and others that reduce the severity of the attack.

In addition, Ventura Neuroscience Center offers advanced treatments for severe headaches and migraines, such as:

  • Medical Botox injections
  • Nerve blocks (injections of a local anesthetic)
  • Cervical spinal cord stimulation
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation

It also helps to adopt a healthy lifestyle and learn to identify your personal triggers for headaches and migraines. These are often things like red wine and chocolate or intense emotions and stress. By recording everything you ate, drank, or did before your migraine, you should be able to spot any common triggers and take steps to avoid them in the future.