Migraines and Headaches

When Should you see a Doctor for Headache Pain?

You should see a headache specialist when pain is intense, frequent and especially of unknown cause.

  headache treatmentRegardless of age, race, or geographic location, headaches are a common complaint among the medical profession. The condition varies in cause and intensity but affects many people. The World Health Organization estimates that 50% of the world’s population will have at least one headache in a year, and 30% will have migraines.

 

The reasons for headaches vary from external issues such as stress and emotion to mental and physical causes. When diagnosing a headache’s underlying causes a doctor will determine the reason for the symptoms.

 

Some doctors who are qualified to treat headaches use functional medicine and holistic practices to address underlying ailments. Opposed to conventional therapies, functional medicine relieves symptoms by treating the root causes.

 

Holistic Treatment for Headaches

ACN Wellness in Vienna and Leesburg Virginia offers holistic treatment options for patients who suffer from headaches and migraines.

 

Dr. Viet Le specializes in treatments that reduce pain including the underlying causes. Using functional medical practices and holistic therapies, Dr. Le cares for the whole patient, not just the symptoms of another issue.

 

Treatments provided by the highly-skilled team at ACN Wellness include:

In rare cases, an individual may think of surgery to relieve chronic migraines using decompression. Surgery is only recommended as a last resort when other proven methods have failed to provide adequate relief. Most chronic headache cases can be solved by determining the root cause of the headache and treating the cause. Often times headache patients suffer from undiagnosed problems such as TMJ dysfunction, food allergies, untreated past trauma (such as car accidents and sports injuries).

 

Symptoms of Headaches

Symptoms of headaches vary in intensity but can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or pain in the eyes
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Tenderness of the head

Who Suffers from Headaches?

Any person, regardless of demographic or geographical location, can suffer from headaches. Mild to severe headaches can present in individuals of any age or gender. People with headache disorders (such as migraines and cluster headaches) tend to be:

  • Male or Female
  • Between the ages of 18-65
  • Indiscriminate of poverty
  • Any person regardless of race or family history

The types of headache or headache disorder a person experiences may relate to daily activities, stressors, medical conditions, or mental issues.

 

What Causes Headaches?

The International Headache Society (IHS) has categorized headaches according to whether or not they are caused by an underlying issue.

 

Headaches can have several underlying contributing factors. There are two separate classifications for headaches based on their causes. These classifications provide insight into the treatment of headaches.

 

Primary Headaches

A primary headache is one that is not caused by an underlying medical issue. These headaches are situational and symptomatic of lifestyle considerations.

● Tension Headaches

● Migraines

● Rebound Headaches

● Cluster Headaches

● Thunderclap Headaches

Primary headaches can also be caused by; alcohol, processed foods, unhealthy sleep patterns, posture, unhealthy eating habits, and stress.

 

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches are symptoms of another medical condition such as; Sinusitis, Brain Aneurism, Tumor, Concussion, dehydration, and more. These underlying conditions affect the nerves in the brain causing severe to mild pain.

● Blood clots

● Concussions

● Dehydration

● Influenza

● Teeth Grinding

● Stroke

● Panic Attacks

● Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

● Bleeding in the brain

● Brain tumor

Since many medical conditions that cause headaches can be serious, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention for them. Symptoms such as confusion, sensory changes, and neck stiffness are a reason for concern and should be examined immediately.

 

Medical Conditions Causing Headaches

Secondary headaches are classified as a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Headaches as a symptom of another issue can be extremely problematic. Many sufferers may not know they have an underlying medical issue while others may think there is no relief. This is why functional medicine plays such an important role in patient care.

 

Common Conditions

The flu, sinusitis, the common cold, and ear infections can cause a headache.

 

Medical Conditions

More severe medical issues that require treatment and can cause headaches are:

  • Chiari Malformation
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfuction
  • Diabetes
  • Auto Immune Disease
  • Food Allergies
  • Brain Tumor
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Meningitis
  • Stroke

Other Medical Contributors

Concussions, hangovers, and dehydration can also lead to headaches.

 

Headache Relief: An Integrative and Functional Approach

Any underlying issues whether they are mental or physical will have a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Whether a patient is seeking relief or a long-term solution to chronic headaches, Dr. Le and the team at ACN Wellness in Leesburg and Vienna VA is prepared to help.

 

When you search for a doctor who can help with headache pain, it is important to choose a practitioner who understands and practices functional medicine. Unlike traditional medical practices, functional medicine is gaining popularity as it focuses on your overall health by taking a holistic approach and treating the the cause of the headache.

 

Additional medical issues are diagnosed during appointments and tests to provide care and treatment programs that stop the headaches as a symptom. By treating the underlying issues, the symptoms will desist as well. Whether this is for mental issues such as stress or physical ones such as posture and abnormalities, taking a functional approach to medicine is designed to treat the entire patient.

 

By focusing on the patient as a whole your physician is better able to treat the problematic symptoms and the underlying causes. Using functional medicine incorporates more therapies with fewer side effects meaning the patient feels better without needing to take downtime or presenting new struggles and symptoms.

 

How to Relieve Headaches

holistic headache therapy

When the precise solution for your headaches has been discovered, you will continue to meet with your specialist to ensure the treatment plan continues to work. If there are any changes, the specialist will adjust the plan.

 

Headaches may be common for you, but they are not normal. You shouldn’t have to live with them and allow them to disrupt your life. Seek treatment for them, so you can improve the quality of your life.

 

Contact Us for Effective and Natural Headache Relief

ACN Wellness specializes in treating headaches. If you’re looking for an effective and natural way to relieve your headaches, contact Dr. Viet Le and Jing Cao for help. Our offices are located in Leesburg and Vienna for your convenience, so contact us at 703-729-5600 or 703-729-5600 for an appointment.

 

The most common medical complaint is a headache. Most people will experience them at some point in life, no matter their age, gender or race. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half of all adults in the world will have a headache over the course of a year.

 

Headaches are usually a sign of stress – emotional, mental or physical. This is why when people seek medical attention for their headaches, they are evaluated for medical or mental health disorders such as high blood pressure, depression or anxiety.

 

Chronic headaches or migraines (a severe form of headaches) can be debilitating. This can result in a lower quality of life, and interfere with work or school.

 

Types and Causes of Headaches

Headaches can happen on any part of the head, including the sides, front, and back. Medical professionals identify the type of headache by assessing the location and severity of the pain. 

The International Headache Society (IHS) has categorized headaches according to whether or not they are caused by an underlying issue.

 

Primary Headaches

These headaches are not caused by any underlying issues. The reason they happen is usually due to overactivity or changes in chemical activity. Headaches under this type are:

  • Tension Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Rebound Headaches
  • Cluster Headaches
  • Thunderclap Headaches

These are common headaches that people often experience as they go through life’s challenges. When someone says they have a headache, it’s usually one of the above.

 

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches usually start slowly and become worse throughout the day. Tightness around the head is the most common symptom, but dull pain on both sides of the head can also be from a tension headache.

 

Tension headaches can be chronic or episodic, which lasts for a few hours. Chronic ones can last a few days to a month or more.

 

Migraines

Migraines are often described as a pulsating and throbbing pain on one side of the head. This pain is accompanied by:

  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensory disturbances also called auras

This is another type of primary headache that can be very painful and last from a few hours to five days. The WHO reports it is the sixth highest cause of days of work lost.

 

Migraine sufferers work hard to identify what triggers their headaches. They keep journals and work with their doctor to manage them. Some of the most common triggers of migraines are:

  • Weather Changes
  • Lack of Sleep 
  • Oversleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Flickering Lights
  • Loud Sounds
  • Strong Smells
  • Food Allergies
  • Hormonal Changes

People often report they experience an aura before a migraine starts. Halos, sparkles, and flashing lights are some of the auras people say they see when they are about to have a migraine.

 

The pain of a migraine can cause nausea and some people end up with a runny nose, congestion, and watery eyes. These symptoms often lead to a misdiagnosis of sinusitis.

 

Treatment for migraines is different from other types of headaches. Pain relievers don’t usually work, so doctors usually prescribe triptans. They can be administered via tablets, nasal sprays or injections. Seventy percent of patients find relief with triptans, especially after taking a second dose.

 

Rebound Headaches

These headaches are due to overusing medications to treat headache symptoms, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc. As these pain relievers wear off, they can cause headaches. Taking more pain relief medication can make the headache go away but it usually comes back as it wears off. The only way to get through this type of headache is to wait until it goes away on its own.

 

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches can last from 15 minutes to three hours. They can happen up to eight times a day for weeks or months. In between the cluster headaches, some people suffer from other types of headaches.

 

This type of headache can happen on one side of the head and it’s often severe with sharp or burning pain. The side where the headache is may become red and swollen and the eyelid may droop. The nasal passage may also become stuffy and runny.

 

Inhaling oxygen once the headache starts can stop it from getting worse. Migraine medications such as sumatriptan can also help cluster headaches. Other options include verapamil (calcium-channel block), divalproex, topiramate, and lithium.

 

Thunderclap Headaches

Just as the name implies, these headaches are sudden and severe. People often describe it as the worst headache they ever had. The pain lasts for a few seconds to five minutes or more. People who suffer from thunderclap headaches may have a serious medical condition, such as cerebral venous thrombosis, ruptured or unruptured aneurysms, meningitis, or pituitary apoplexy. Anyone with this type of headache should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

Secondary Headaches

Secondary headaches happen because another condition has stimulated nerves in the head. Many medical and mental issues cause headaches, such as:

  • Blood clots
  • Concussions
  • Dehydration
  • Influenza
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Stroke
  • Panic Attacks
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain tumor

Since many medical conditions that cause headaches can be serious, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention for them. Symptoms such as confusion, sensory changes, and neck stiffness are a reason for concern and should be examined immediately.

 

Headache Treatment

Most people find relief by resting and taking pain relief medication. For people who have headaches on a regular basis, prescription medication may be given to prevent them, such as:

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Anti-Epileptic Drugs 
  • Beta-Blockers

Since overconsumption of pain relief medications can lead to rebound headaches, it’s important to take breaks from taking them, despite ongoing headache symptoms. In severe cases of medication overuse, a hospital stay be needed to withdraw from it safely and effectively.

 

For people who do not respond to over-the-counter medications, there are many other treatments available. 

  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • Cognitive Behavioral  Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Remedies

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to headaches, especially when people are low in magnesium and vitamin B. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is one way to treat and prevent headaches. 

`

When to Worry About a Headache

Headaches are usually not something to worry about, especially if the cause is known. If the cause is unknown, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. This is when someone should worry about it. There are other times someone should worry about a headache:

  • It suddenly happens after the age of 50
  • The type of  headache experienced changes
  • Comes on suddenly and it’s severe
  • Happens with a cough
  • Gets worse over time
  • When a headache causes a change in personality
  • Ends up causing the eye to turn red and be painful
  • Temples become painful and tender
  • Starts after being hit in the head
  • Disrupts life on a regular basis

Chronic headaches can lead to depression, which can increase the risk of suicide. If you’ve been suffering from chronic headaches and you’re feeling helpless, hopeless, and having thoughts of harming yourself, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. The National Suicide Prevention Line is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-8255. A mental health professional will answer the phone and talk to you about how you’re feeling. This line is confidential.

 

Headache Tests

When people suffer from many headache episodes, doctors often refer them to neurologists. The neurologist seeks to identify underlying causes for the headaches. Some of the tests that they use are:

  • CT Scans
  • MRIs
  • EEGs

If these tests show normal brain activity, the headaches are usually deemed as not serious and are managed with medication or alternative headache treatments.

 

What To Expect When Seeking Help for Headaches

You do not have to live with headaches for your whole life. There are ways to manage and prevent them, and speaking to a specialist can help.

 

When you meet with a specialist, you’ll answer questions about your headaches. Questions that have to do with when they happen, how long they last, how severe they are, and what you do currently to deal with them. The specialist will then review your medical history and will likely want you to have a physical exam to rule out any underlying medical issues.

 

Once all other causes of the headaches are ruled out, the doctor will work with you on a treatment plan. This plan will help you identify what causes them, what makes them go away and, what works to prevent them.

 

Alternative treatments may be offered to help with your headache management, such as:

  • Nutritional Supplements – After assessing your deficiencies, supplements for specific nutrients are recommended. 
  • Acupuncture – This practice has been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of headaches. It involves places pins in specific places on the head. 
  • Craniosacral Therapy – This therapy applies pressure to joints in the cranium to relieve tension. 
  • Magnesium IVs – Magnesium deficiency has been known to cause headaches, so an IV with magnesium can increase levels. 
  • Nutritional Counseling – Eating healthy and well-balanced meals can help people prevent headaches, so learning how to prepare them can help. 
  • Physical Therapy – Certain exercises can reduce stress, which leads to a decrease in headaches. 
  • Prescription Medications – Many medications exist to treat headaches and prevent them. 

When the precise solution for your headaches has been discovered, you will continue to meet with your specialist to ensure the treatment plan continues to work. If there are any changes, the specialist will adjust the plan.

 

Headaches may be common for you, but they are not normal. You shouldn’t have to live with them and allow them to disrupt your life. Seek treatment for them, so you can improve the quality of your life.

 

Contact Us for Effective and Natural Headache Relief

ACN Wellness specializes in treating headaches. If you’re looking for an effective and natural way to relieve your headaches, contact Dr. Viet Le and Jing Cao for help. Our offices are located in Leesburg and Vienna for your convenience, so contact us at 703-729-5600 or 703-729-5600 for an appointment.c