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Headaches are a common medical condition that affects nearly everyone at one time or another.  It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic, recurring headaches.

The majority of headaches last only a few hours, but some can persist for weeks.   There are different types of headaches including tension headaches and migraines, which are the most common types says Dr. Vajeeha Tabassum, assistant professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She describes some symptoms:

SOUND BITE:  “Symptoms of the tension-type headache include pressure or tightness around both sides of the head or neck, mild to moderate pain that is steady and does not throb.  And pain is not worsened by activity and they usually don’t have the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound.”

Dr. Tabassum says migraine headaches are more severe.  They tend to begin gradually and often are accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.  Migraines can be triggered by certain foods and alcohol.  She offers some treatments for headaches.

SOUND BITE:    “In many people, headaches can be well controlled with a combination of medicines and complimentary therapies.  Treatment is most successful when it is tailored to your needs. Simple medications include aspirin, Aceteminophen or Ibuprofen.”

Dr. Tabassum says for migraines most physicians recommend medications called triptans.  Anyone who has a sudden serious headache that is accompanied by vomiting or vision problems should see their primary care physician or go to the hospital emergency room immediately.   A sudden headache can signal a stroke.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.