Myths vs. Facts: How Well Do You Know Your Headache Pain?

woman grabbing her head because of a headache
Headaches are the most common medical complaint and can be a sign of stress.

Your head hurts – again. But do you know what type of headache it is? What may have caused this headache pain? And most importantly, how do you ease the discomfort? Before you reach for the ibuprofen, find out more about this common complaint.

Myths vs. Facts: Conquer Your Headaches

1. There are about 15 kinds of headaches.

Myth. According to the International Headache Society, there are about 150 kinds of headaches.

2. “Migraine” is just another word for a bad headache.

Myth. The clinical definition of a migraine is more than five episodes of headaches that last 4 to 72 hours, with pain so severe it interferes with daily activity. Migraines may be associated with nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, and visual disturbances.

3. The most common kind of headache is a tension headache.

Fact. Up to 90% of people will have a tension headache at some point in their lives.

4. A change in sleep patterns can cause headaches.

Fact. A change in your sleep pattern – too much or too little – may instigate a headache. It’s best to get the same amount of sleep each night and to get up at the same time each day, even on the weekend.

5. A walk around the block can help you feel better when you have a headache.

Fact. Moderate exercise can help ease headache pain and may be useful in reducing chronic headaches.

Frequent Headaches?

Talk with our providers to find the best treatment plan for you at the UVA Headache Clinic.

6. Alternative or healing therapies are not effective in reducing headache pain.

Myth. Chronic stress is a common cause of tension headaches. Stress-reducing healing methods, such as biofeedback and relaxation, may reduce headaches in some people. Other alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, may also be effective.

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