Vascular headaches are an umbrella term used to describe headaches due to head and neck blood vessel changes. Vascular headaches are often called vascular migraines and cluster headaches, although both these types of headaches are much different from one another.
Migraines and cluster headaches are called primary headaches. A primary headache has no underlying condition causing the headache. The headaches caused by illness or another disease are known as secondary headaches.
Migraine, a common headache, is experienced more in women than men. There is no definitive cause of migraine, but changes in the blood vessels and nerves may be significant contributing factors. Migraines usually start in adolescence or young adulthood. It may get triggered by factors, such as -
Cluster headaches are much more severe but less common than migraines. These headaches occur in clusters, i.e., one or more times a day over a significant duration. Experts opine that cluster headaches are related to blood vessel dilation. Some possible causes of cluster headaches may be:
Men between the ages of 20- 40 are more prone to having cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are also triggered due to elements such as -
It is noteworthy that migraines and cluster headaches are unique and have different symptoms.
Migraines last for several hours or even days at once. One may encounter migraine pain at a very frequent rate. Symptoms of migraines include:
An aura is a symptom or a sign indicating the migraine headache is about to start. Aura symptoms may involve sensory disturbances and vision changes (seeing flashing lights or blind spots).
Cluster headaches frequently occur, often at the same time of day or multiple times a day. These headaches may start at any point in time. The headaches last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours and may stay overnight, waking a person in the middle of the night. The pattern may last for several weeks or months. Cluster headache symptoms feel like -
A doctor carries out the diagnosis to find the root cause and severity of these vascular headaches. They may ask the patient to describe their symptoms, track their headaches, not the nature of the pain, initiation point of the pain, plausible triggers, and any other information that may help decide the treatment method.
Although mild headaches are often treated with home remedies, it is always advised to consult a doctor if the frequency or gravity of the headaches is intensified over time.
One must see a doctor if the headaches are -
Treatment for migraines, cluster headaches, and secondary headaches depends on their nature. Migraines and cluster headaches are extensively reduced by making some lifestyle changes to avoid triggers.
Migraines are often managed at home by lying down in a dark, quiet place and using a cool compress. According to medical professionals, the ice pack for headaches is a reliable way to curb vascular headaches as the cold constricts blood vessels and reduces the neurotransmission of pain to the brain. It leads the brain to register coldness instead of pain. It also cools down the blood flow to the carotid artery in the neck, reducing inflammation and relieving the pain.
One may also need medications to reduce migraine symptoms. These medicines may be bought over-the-counter or prescribed by a professional. Some of these drugs prevent migraines from returning, while the others target areas where the pain is radiated. There are many invasive treatment options to treat cluster headaches, such as nerve stimulation and surgery.
Vascular headaches are preventable. Avoiding the triggers can be an effective way of managing vascular headaches. To keep migraines and cluster headaches in check, eliminate certain foods and drinks from the diet, curb stress, refrain from consuming tobacco, and sleep properly for at least 7-8 hours.
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