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Woman holding her head in pain while crying

Headaches can be caused by a brain or spine tumor, cancer treatment, or medications used to treat side effects.

Credit: iStock

What Is a Headache? 

A headache is pain or pressure in the head that does not go away—or that goes away and comes back. Headaches can be caused by a brain or spine tumor, cancer treatment, or medications used to treat side effects.

In addition to pain or pressure, headaches may involve the following symptoms:

  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of interest or difficulty participating in things you used to enjoy
  • Decreased ability to move around or do things

Ways to Manage Headaches 

There are many ways you can manage and cope with headaches:

  • Keep a daily log of your headaches and what you are doing to manage them using the My STORITM app or a journal. Include what you were doing before the headache occurred and look for patterns.
  • Identify causes or triggers for your headache. Triggers are things that cause your headache or make it worse. A trigger may be an activity, the timing of what you eat or drink, exposure to noise or smells, other illnesses, medications, or changes in medications. Certain foods, beverages, and substances can also trigger headaches, such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. 
  • Find ways to manage your stress and emotions. Identify things in your life that cause stress. Consider stress management techniques such as meditation or breathing techniques. You can also seek support from others.
  • Take your medication exactly as prescribed. Do not wait to take your medication until the headache pain is severe. Keep at least one week of supply on hand.
  • Explore self-care activities that can help you cope with and improve your headaches, including diet, exercise, and sleep.

When to Report Headaches 

Discuss any concerns with your doctor. Share the symptoms you’ve logged and your self-care activities.

  • Ask your doctor when and how to report your symptoms.
  • Report if your headaches get worse, are severe (greater than a seven on a scale of zero to 10), or do not improve with your self-care activities.
  • Ask your doctor what you should do in case of an emergency and when your headaches should be reported immediately.
  • Updated:

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