Mesothelioma and Headaches: What You Need to Know
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart, or abdomen. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos, which was commonly used in construction and other industries until the 1980s. Symptoms of mesothelioma can be vague, and they may not appear for decades after exposure to asbestos.
One symptom that may be associated with mesothelioma is headaches. Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, so it is important to understand when they may be a symptom of mesothelioma and when they are not.
Types of Headaches
Before discussing headaches and mesothelioma, it is important to understand the different types of headaches. The three most common types are tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches.
Tension headaches are often described as a tightening or pressure sensation around the head. They can be caused by stress, poor posture, or muscle tension.
Migraine headaches are characterized by severe pain on one side of the head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. They may be preceded by visual disturbances known as aura.
Cluster headaches are rare and are characterized by severe pain on one side of the head that lasts from 15 minutes to three hours. They may be accompanied by eye watering, nasal congestion, and restlessness.
Headaches and Mesothelioma
One of the challenges of diagnosing mesothelioma is that its symptoms can be vague and similar to other conditions. Headaches, for example, can be caused by many factors besides mesothelioma. However, if someone who has been exposed to asbestos develops persistent headaches, they should consult with a doctor.
One study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that headaches were a symptom in about 10 percent of mesothelioma cases. The study found that headaches were associated with tumors that had spread to the brain or the lining of the brain.
It is important to note that not all headaches associated with mesothelioma will be severe or debilitating. Some people may experience mild headaches that are easily managed with over-the-counter pain medications.
If a person with mesothelioma experiences headaches, their doctor may recommend imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs to determine if the cancer has spread to the brain or the lining of the brain.
If you are experiencing headaches and have been exposed to asbestos, it is important to consult with a doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms. If your headaches are related to mesothelioma, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan.
In addition to medical treatment, there are several things you can do to manage headaches, regardless of their cause. These include:
- Avoiding triggers such as stress, certain foods, or bright lights
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation
- Getting regular exercise
- Maintaining good posture
- Getting enough sleep
The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. Although its use is heavily regulated in many countries, it is still present in older buildings and industrial sites. If you work in a field that may expose you to asbestos, it is important to follow safety guidelines and wear protective gear.
If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past, it is important to monitor your health and report any unusual symptoms to your doctor. Mesothelioma can take decades to develop, so it is important to be aware of your potential risk.
Although headaches can be a symptom of mesothelioma, they can also be caused by many other factors. If you have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing persistent headaches, it is important to consult with a doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms.
The best way to prevent mesothelioma is to avoid exposure to asbestos. If you work in a field that may expose you to asbestos, it is important to follow safety guidelines and wear protective gear.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your healthcare team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It is important to stay in regular contact with your healthcare team to manage your symptoms and monitor your progress.