Answers to Common Headache Questions

Premier Physician Network doctors answer frequently asked questions about headaches.

What is a migraine?

A migraine is an intense headache that lasts for hours or days, and it is usually accompanied by a pounding feeling, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP). The pounding often starts in a person’s forehead, side of the head, or around the eyes.

Most migraines start off less strong and gradually get worse, according to the AAFP. Common parts of a persons’ day, including motion, activity, bright lights, and noise, all can make a migraine hurt worse.

In addition to pounding pain, migraines can cause a variety of other issues, according to the AAFP, including:

  • Depressed feelings
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness on one side
  • Nausea
  • Prickly, burning sensation
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble communicating
  • Vision issues
  • Vomiting

Migraines are more common in women than in men. While some people get migraines only a couple of times a year, others suffer from these intense headaches daily, according to the AAFP.

For more information about migraines, talk with your doctor.

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How is a migraine diagnosed?

Migraines are diagnosed by talking to your physician about your symptoms, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesOff Site Icon (HHS).

Your physician will be able to review your symptoms, family history, medical history, and maybe conduct some medical tests – including blood work, an MRI, and a CAT scan – to decide if your symptoms line up with migraine symptoms, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP).

A physical exam will also likely be part of diagnosing your migraine, according to the AAFP.

Talk to your doctor for more information about how migraines are diagnosed.

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How is a migraine treated?

There are a variety of ways to treat migraines, both with behavior changes and medication, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP).

Your doctor might have you keep a headache journal to try to help pinpoint what environmental, behavioral, and lifestyle factors are triggering your migraines, according to the AAFP. Avoiding these triggers can help avoid migraines.

Some common triggers, according to the AAFP, include:

  • Bright lights
  • Dehydration
  • Dieting
  • Flashing lights
  • Hormone changes
  • Illnesses, including cold and flu
  • Loud noise
  • Some drinks
  • Some food
  • Some types of medication
  • Stress

If your doctor recommends medication, it might be used to help relieve migraine pain or to help stop migraines before they start.

Other steps the AAFP recommends to help manage migraine pain include:

  • Lying in a dark, quiet room
  • Massaging the scalp with lots of pressure
  • Putting pressure on your temples
  • Sleeping
  • Using a cold compress on your forehead or behind your neck

For more information about treating migraines, talk with your doctor.

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How can weather patterns trigger a headache?

Dr. Aaron Block discusses how weather patterns can trigger a headache. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Different weather patterns can trigger different types of headaches.

For some of us, changes in barometric pressure can change our sinuses and cause a headache, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say. For others, a dry and dusty day can trigger allergies that can bring on a headache.

The National Headache FoundationOff Site Icon (NHF) also says that in some cases headaches can be caused by humidity and temperature changes.

Talk with your doctor for more information about how weather patterns can trigger headaches.

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Can headaches triggered by weather changes also be related to allergies?

Dr. Aaron Block discusses whether headaches triggered by weather changes can also be related to allergies. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

   

Headaches triggered by weather changes can be related to allergies.

Especially with each change of season – as new plants produce different types of pollen – headaches can be common, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say.

Allergy-related headaches aren’t the most common kind of headache. Allergy headaches are either sinus headaches or migraines, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and ImmunologyOff Site Icon (ACAAI).

Talk to your doctor for more information about headaches triggered by weather changes also being related to allergies.

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What can you do to reduce your risk of developing a headache from weather patterns?

Dr. Aaron Block discusses how you can reduce your risk of developing a headache from weather patterns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

    

Frustrated by having to fight a headache when the weather changes? You can start reducing your risk of weather-related headaches by talking to your doctor. 

Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say to keep a headache diary that includes:

  • Anything you ate that was not typical
  • Barometric pressure changes
  • If you were around anyone who was sick
  • Kind of headache
  • Temperature changes
  • Type of headache
  • Where the headache is located in your head
  • Weather pattern changes

By checking your diary, your doctor can help figure out what is causing your headache and make a plan to help you avoid headaches in the future.

For more information, talk with your doctor about how to reduce your risk of weather-related headaches.

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Is there maintenance medicine that can help prevent a weather-related headache?

Dr. Aaron Block discusses whether there is medicine that can help prevent a weather-related headache. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

     

If your weather-related headaches are caused by allergies, there is medicine that can help prevent some of your headaches.

Allergies that cause you sinus problems, for example, can be fought with a nasal spray to prevent nasal inflammation that can lead to a headache, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say.

If you have a pollen allergy, you might be able to take a long-term allergy medication to help reduce your sensitivity and curb your headaches.

Talk to your doctor for more information about maintenance medicine that can help prevent weather-related headaches.

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Thanks to Premier Physician Network’s doctors for answering these common questions about headaches:

Additional Resources

  • Shifting Weather Patterns May Trigger Migraine Attacks
  • Migraines Remain One of the Top Disabling Disorders across the Globe
  • American Headache SocietyOff Site Icon
  • American Migraine FoundationOff Site Icon
  • American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesOff Site Icon
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma, and ImmunologyOff Site Icon
  • National Headache FoundationOff Site Icon
  • This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.

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