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Localized Headaches and Migraines

How to identify your headache — based on pain location.

Understanding what kind of headache is causing you pain is important. Knowing your headache type might help you manage it better.

Headaches

If you feel a constant ache in the back of your head, jaw tightness, and muscle stiffness, you might have a tension headache.1

A cluster headache appears for a “cluster” of time before disappearing. Sufferers will feel a sudden onset of severe pain behind one eye, sometimes accompanied with watery eyes, runny nose, droopy eyelids, and sweaty skin.2, 3

A stuffy nose paired with pain around the nose might mean you’re experiencing a sinus headache.The pain is usually cased by an infection, sometimes with a fever. 3

Migraines

Migraines are defined as a neurological disorder and need to be diagnosed by a physician. They can be identified by pain along one side of the head as well as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.4 One sign of an oncoming migraine is the aura that precedes it. Aura can be identified by numbness as well as visual disturbances such as flashes of light or spots in your field of vision.5

Retinal migraines, or ocular migraines, result in a temporary loss of vision in one eye associated with a migraine headache.6

Once you identify your headache or migraine, ask your doctor about the best plan of action for you. You may use these techniques to help reduce future pain.

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1. Alonso-Blanco, Cristina, César Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Daniel M. Fernández-Mayoralas, Ana Isabel De-la-Llave-Rincón, Juan A. Pareja, and Peter Svensson. "Prevalence and Anatomical Localization of Muscle Referred Pain from Active Trigger Points in Head and Neck Musculature in Adults and Children with Chronic Tension-Type Headache." Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (n.d.): n. pag. Web.http://painmedicine.oxfordjournals.org/content/painmedicine/12/10/1453.full.pdf.

2. Laudon Meyer, Eva, Katarina Laurell, Ville Artto, and Lars Bendtsen. "Lateralization in Cluster Headache: A Nordic Multicenter Study." (n.d.): n. pag. Http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3451747/pdf/10194_2009_Article_129.pdf. 3 June 2009. Web.

3. "The Complete Headache Chart | National Headache Foundation." National Headache Foundation. N.p., 11 Dec. 2008. Web. http://www.headaches.org/2008/12/11/the-complete-headache-chart/.

4. "Migraine or Headache?" Excedrin®. N.p., n.d. Web. https://www.excedrin.com/migraines/causes/migraine-vs-headache/.

5. "Migraine with Aura: Symptoms and Causes." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 05 May 2016. Web. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-with-aura/symptoms-causes/dxc-20201094.

6. Swanson, Jerry W. "Ocular Migraine: When to Seek Help." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 5 Aug. 2014. Web. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/expert-answers/ocular-migraine/faq-20058113.

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