Living Well

Wage Up! Is it a headache or a migraine (and how to know the difference)?

If you've ever had a splitting headache, you've probably wondered if it's a migraine. After all, people tend to use the term "migraine" loosely. Whether it's been a tough day at work for an employee or a parent's children are screaming loudly, you've likely heard someone mutter, "I feel a migraine coming on."

But what exactly is a migraine and how is it different from a headache? Here's what you need to know about the two different types of head pain, and more importantly, ways that you might be able to treat them.

Are there different types of migraines?

The main difference between a migraine and a headache is that a migraine is a neurological condition. That sounds really intense, and for most people who experience migraines, it is. There are actually two main types of migraines: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

Migraine with aura

According to the American Migraine Foundation, about one-quarter of people who experience migraines have migraines with aura. This type of migraine usually results in temporary loss of movement, speech and even sight. The symptoms are usually fully reversible, but as you can imagine, the experience is scary.

In fact, a lot of people who experience these types of migraines think that they are having a stroke. Because this type of migraine has very specific symptoms, there isn't usually as much confusion about whether it's a migraine or a headache. However, the more common type of migraine — migraine without aura — has symptoms that are similar to those of a headache.

Migraine without aura

Migraines without aura come with unique symptoms that are not present during headaches. The main symptoms that are present in a migraine that are not present in a headache include: sensitivity to light, smell or sound, nausea, vomiting and worsening during movement.

Even though some of the symptoms are similar to those of a headache, they are actually unique. Because of that, the symptoms are a way to differentiate between a headache and a migraine.

Pain relief for migraines

Depending on how often you get migraines, it might be a good idea to talk with your primary doctor about prescription treatment or other steps you can take to manage the symptoms, frequency and severity. These items might be able to help as well.

Migraine Deluxe Kit: This kit provides everything you need for fast pain relief during a migraine — compression head wrap, cooling packs and heat packs.

Headache Band: The headache band is a cold pack that you don't have to hold in place. Instead, it wraps around your head and stays put, which is a crucial feature when you barely move.

Excedrin Migraine: Even though you need a prescription to buy this medicine with your FSA or HSA card, it's worth the trip to your doctor's office if you get regular migraines.

What about headaches?

Headaches are painful. Whether it's a small headache on one side of your forehead or a pounding headache that rings through your ears, headaches are never fun. The best way to deal with headaches is through preparation.

For most people, that means that they should have a supply of over-the-counter pain medication (which you'll need a prescription for if you want to use your HSA to pay for it) and other aids that can ease your symptoms. Here are a few products to consider using next time you get a painful headache.

Intellinetix Headache Band: Use the power of technology to ease your symptoms next time you have a headache. This headache band uses vibration therapy to help you feel better.

Soft Gel Sheets: You can't carry around a frozen ice pack for when a headache strikes, but you can carry soft gel sheets. These sheets don't need to be frozen and offer a similar cooling sensation.

Thermal-Aid Headache Relief System: If you're tired of taking pills for pain relief, but you still need a solution for headaches that works fast, then the Thermal-Aid Headache Relief System might be for you.

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Whether you're spending steadily or saving for something big, Wage Up! is where we highlight the latest services available to buy with your HSA, every Monday on the HSA Learning Center. And for everything else about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wage Up! How to handle holiday burnout yourself

The holidays can be both exciting and stressful. In order to make it through the season in one piece, it's important to make some time for your own health. Because here's the deal—if you don't care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. Even though it may seem like a good idea to get everything else done before you worry about yourself, the truth is that you should be your own top priority.

We're not doctors, so definitely check with a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your health habits and routine. But from our experience, the following tips have helped us to maintain a healthier sense of self -- something we could all use during a hectic holiday season.

Actually, let's start with the logical first step -- which you can't do solely on your own.

Visit the doctor

You know that doctor appointment you've been putting off all year? Now is the time to make it happen. Whether it's a visit for your annual wellness exam (or wellness scan) or for a persistent pain you haven't been able to fix, one of the best ways to take care of yourself this season is to sit down, call your doctor and book the appointment.

This is also a good time to think about any specialists you may need to see—dermatologist, registered dieticians, gastroenterologists and more. Your future self will thank you (especially since they're all eligible).

Self-control

When it comes to health, self-control is often touted as the ultimate solution, especially during the holidays when cookies and other desserts are abundant. But according to research, restricting sugary foods may actually lead to weight gain. Part of the reason is that when certain foods are forbidden or off-limits, they can actually seem more enticing. Because of that, it might be a good idea to resist labeling foods as "good" or "bad."

Instead of utilizing your self-control to restrict food, try harnessing the power of self-control to focus on your holistic health.

Self-care

Self-care in the form of long baths and glasses of wine is often touted as the ultimate health solution, but the truth is that self-care is about more than temporary pleasure. Even though it's important to make time for yourself and the things you enjoy, it's also important to make sure that you're doing the things that will make sure the holiday travel, heavy lifting and constant activity doesn't affect your health.

Self-care can get a little tricky. This holiday season, the best way to show yourself love is to buy items that will help you to physically and mentally feel better. Plus, they're all HSA-eligible.

It's tempting to ignore lingering pain or persistent aches—especially when you're tired, overworked and stressed—but that's why it's an act of self-love to actually take care of them, and yourself.

  • Acupressure mat

Acupressure mats are a way to use acupuncture at home and without needles. If you've been struggling with exhaustion or stress, it might be a great at home remedy. The best part is that acupressure mats help your body heal itself.

  • Motion sickness wristband

If you suffer from motion sickness and are traveling during the holidays, it might be a good idea to try a motion sickness wristband. The wristband uses acupressure on your wrist to help with motion sickness.

  • Heated neck rest

Heated neck rests are the perfect solution for headaches, stress and muscle tension, all of which seem to abound during the holiday season. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed or feel a headache coming, give yourself a few minutes to relax with a heated neck rest.

Bottom line

The holidays might be stressful, but that doesn't mean that your well-being needs to suffer. Instead, make time to take care of yourself. Again, we're not doctors and can't give you proper medical advice (see our first tip) but after getting that checkup, see if these easy tips can help you have a better, healthier holiday season.

Whether you're spending steadily or saving for something, Wage Up! is where we highlight the latest services available to buy with your HSA, every Monday on the HSA Learning Center. And for everything else about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Future Healthy: Aging out of my parents' health insurance

The first letter arrived two months ago. The tone was polite and the message was clear: as soon as I turn 26 years old, I'll "age out" of my parents' health insurance plan and won't be eligible for coverage with their employers.

My birthday is now less than three weeks away and -- as I decide how I want to celebrate with friends and family -- there's something else I need to decide as well. What am I going to do about my health insurance?

Well, I'm happy to report that the world isn't ending! Here's everything I've learned about turning 26 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what it means for health insurance coverage.

Coverage lasts until the end of the month (and maybe longer)

If you're about to turn 26 years old (or you know, just turned 26) then you might be relieved to learn that your current health insurance coverage lasts until the end of your birthday month. So if your birthday is November 1st, you'll have coverage until November 30th.

My birthday falls in the middle of the month, so I'll remain on my parents' plan for an additional two weeks after my birthday. It's not much - but there's a lot I can get done in those extra few weeks.

Some plans may even allow you to be covered through the end of the year in which you turn 26, so be sure to find out all of the details if you're finding yourself in the same situation as me.

You can extend coverage through COBRA

Once you turn 26 years old, you may be eligible to purchase temporary extended health insurance on your parents' health insurance plan for up to 36 months through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). In order to qualify, you parents' plan must be sponsored by an employer with 20 or more employees and must be COBRA-eligible.

To elect COBRA, you have to notify your parents' employer within 60 days of turning 26 years old, and the notification must be in writing. Here's how it works: if you elect COBRA, you'll have access to the same health plan that you had before you turned 26 years old. But because your parents' employer is no longer subsidizing your health care, you'll be responsible for 100% of the plan's full cost, plus an admin fee of up to 2%.

It's a qualifying life event (QLE)

Loss of health coverage is considered a qualifying life event. Because you'll lose coverage on your parents' health insurance plan when you turn 26 years old, aging out counts as a QLE.

This means that you will be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to enroll in health insurance outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period. If you or your spouse have an employer that offers health insurance benefits, this means that you'll be able to enroll in health insurance benefits once you turn 26.

It also means that you'll be eligible to shop for coverage through your state's health insurance marketplace. There are a few things you might want to remember though:

  • The Special Enrollment Period must be requested within 30 days of your loss of coverage. Once it has been requested, you will typically have 60 days to enroll in a plan. If you miss the Special Enrollment Period, you'll have to wait to enroll until the next open enrollment period.
  • You might need to produce proof of the qualifying life event. This is usually a letter from your parents' employer or your previous health provider stating that coverage has ended due to age.

This is a great time to reevaluate your health insurance needs. If this is the first time you've ever had coverage through an employer, then it might be a good idea to look at the various health insurance options—including flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts. Whether or not you are allowed to make mid-year changes is ultimately up to your employer, but it doesn't hurt to check.

Bottom line

In many ways, my 26th birthday came at the perfect time because I recently started a full-time job with health insurance benefits. But whether you're employed, unemployed or somewhere in-between it's always a good idea to know your options. And if you're looking for health insurance, you can start by checking out your state's health insurance marketplace.

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Whether it's for covering medical expenses, or planning bigger investments, our Future Healthy column will help support your path to retirement, no matter where you are on the journey. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out our HSA Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.