Delimiting tension headache from migraine

Sometimes they are dull-oppressive, then throbbing-pulsing: a headache. Depending on the type of headache the person suffers from, the pain is perceived differently. But by no means all sufferers differentiate between tension headaches and migraines. And the treatment is often not the different types of headache justice.

Recognize triggers, avoid causes

Headaches have many causes. "Mostly emotional stress, muscle tension or malpositions are responsible for tension headaches, " says Otto Uhl, Managing Director of the MigräneLiga eV, Ginsheim. But lack of fluids or working under time pressure and in poorly ventilated areas can cause headaches. "Triggers, so-called triggers, for example for migraine are hormonal factors or foods, " Uhl continued. In many cases, headaches can be avoided by treating the causes.

"Stress-related headache is best treated with rest, relaxation exercises or a walk in the fresh air, " advises Krause, head of the pain section in the DGK. Cool compresses from the pharmacy on the neck or forehead help against the pain. Migraines should bypass known triggers. Detecting the triggers can be helped by a headache diary, available free of charge at participating pharmacies.

Treat headache, can not stand it

Tips from friends and acquaintances are not always appropriate to treat your own headache. That's why advice is important. In liver disease, for example, paracetamol is rather unsuitable.

An important orientation aid in the choice of the painkiller are the recommendations of the German Migraine and Headache Society (DMKG). Thereafter, the active ingredient combination acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), paracetamol and caffeine as well as ibuprofen and ASA are suitable as individual substances for the self-treatment of tension-type headaches.

In migraine also acetaminophen. But not all recommended substances are equally effective.

Analgesic agents

According to a study in which all common drugs in headache were compared, the combination of ASA, paracetamol and caffeine is significantly more effective than single substances. In order to achieve a comparable pain relief with the single active ingredients, sufferers would still need to take half a tablet more.

"The reason for this is probably the broader effect profile, because the different substances attack the pain at different sites of action. Jan-Peter Jansen of the Headache Foundation, Berlin.

By the way: despite better effects, the side effects of the triple combination are low. Ninety percent of the study respondents described tolerability as good and very good.

With strong complaints to the doctor

Even if there is nothing against a self-medication with occasional headaches, the headache should be understood as a warning signal. If one has expected too much of his body, peace and relaxation is announced. In case of infections it is important to treat the cause.

Therefore, Jansen advises: "If you suffer from headaches several times a month, have severe discomfort or unexplained headaches, you should see a doctor."

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