The Hidden Truth About Migraines & Tension Headaches in the Elderly

As individuals reach their retirement phase, it's often noted that the frequency of migraines tends to decrease. Nevertheless, if headaches begin to increase during your senior years, it's crucial to take it seriously and consult a doctor.

Headache pain is indicative of an underlying cause. An increase in regularity should prompt a visit to your healthcare provider to rule out any severe issues. Although these headaches could be due to stress or dietary choices, it's better to be safe than sorry. A consultation with your doctor could potentially prevent a stroke or other serious conditions.

This article discusses common types of headaches that seniors might encounter. If you've been fortunate enough not to experience headaches in your early years, the following descriptions may help you identify if you're currently suffering from a specific type of headache.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines typically commence with warning symptoms, also known as an aura. The symptoms might include pain or a tingling sensation on one side of your head soon followed by throbbing or pulsing pain. Sensitivity to light and noise may increase, and you might also experience weakness, nausea, and/or vomiting.

As an older adult, you might experience a less severe type of migraine, which could result in neck pain instead of a headache. Triggers could include allergies, light, stress, and certain foods. If you experience anything beyond a ‘migraine aura', it's imperative to consult a doctor immediately.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches, a common form of headache, can affect people even over the age of 65. Though the frequency may decrease with age, they can become more common later in life. Tension headaches are caused by the contraction of muscles in your head and neck, leading to pressure across your forehead.

Certain foods like MSG, chocolate, aged cheeses, and smoked fish can trigger tension headaches. Stress or head injury can also lead to muscle contractions.

Head massages can alleviate tension headaches effectively. Massaging your neck and shoulders can help relax the tight muscles. You can also self-massage by gently rubbing your fingers on the painful areas. Bowen therapy can help too and provide quick relief.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are termed ‘seasonal' as they tend to occur at the same time each year. You may experience a series of short yet incredibly painful headaches that last from 20 minutes to 3 hours, and can continue for weeks or even months, once or twice a day. Alternatively, it might feel like a prolonged, unbearable headache that lasts for months without any respite.

Due to their nature, cluster headaches can be mistaken for allergies or stress. The cause of these headaches remains unknown, and there is no known cure. Although not life-threatening, the pain can be excruciating and can significantly impact the quality of your life, making them the most debilitating of all headaches.

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