Headache can affect just anybody and everybody. It is pain in the head, which involves the area located above the eyes or the ears, behind the head or in the back of the upper neck. The muscles or blood vessels of the head, neck area swell, tighten, or undergo other changes that put pressure on the surrounding nerves and cause a headache.
What are the types of headaches?
There are two types of headaches –
1. primary headaches – accounts for 90% of all headaches. This is not related to any other disease. There are three types of primary headache –
a. tension headaches – associates with stress, anxiety and depression.
b. cluster headaches – occur daily, over a long period.
2. secondary headache – associated with an underlying condition such as cerebro-vascular disease, head trauma, infection, tumour or some metabolic disorder (such as diabetes, thyroid problem). In these cases, the underlying condition must be diagnosed and treated.
3. One may also suffer from something called “mixed” headache in which tension headache or secondary headache triggers migraine headaches.
What causes headaches?
Almost everybody must have had an experience of a headache sometime or the other. Headaches are more common in women and in people with a genetic history of headaches.
Tension headaches are caused by stress, muscular tension, vascular dilation, postural changes, prolonged coughing/sneezing, and fever.
Physical conditions that can lead to chronic muscular tension and thereby, headache include:
* Arthritis in neck or spinal cord
* Degenerative bone disease in the neck or spine
Cluster headaches may be due to alcohol abuse or the side effects of certain medications, including drugs that dilate or constrict blood vessels. A low level of endorphins (natural painkilling compounds found in the brain) may cause frequent, severe, or chronic headache pain.
Other common factors that make people more prone to headache are –
* excessive consumption of tea, coffee, nicotine
* deficiency of oxygen in the blood
* approach to a menstrual cycle (in case of women)
* sitting too close to the television
* reading in insufficient light or a moving vehicle
Causes of secondary headache vary from life threatening conditions such as brain tumours, cerebral strokes, meningitis, brain hemorrhages to less serious conditions such as withdrawal from drugs, caffeine.
Symptoms of headache –
Signs that indicate the presence of a headache:
* a constant dull ache in the head.
* difficulty in sleeping
* loss of appetite
* feeling of uneasiness
Diagnosis of a headache?
In most cases of headache, there is no need to visit the doctor. A very severe headache that appears suddenly, or one that deteriorates instead of getting better with time requires medical investigation.
One can even identify the type of headache, by being a bit alert. Each time you have a headache, make a note of how bad it is, where the pain is, any other symptoms, and if any type of pattern emerges.
This can help find out triggers, which can thus be avoided.
If a headache is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, or disturbed vision/speech, or loss of memory, one must immediately consult a doctor.
Treat of headaches?
Tension-type headaches can be relieved by using relaxation techniques, or using over-the-counter painkillers.
* Taking a painkiller such as aspirin, dispirin usually works well.
* One may also take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen as an alternative. Anti-inflammatories may be more effective than normal painkillers for some people.
A word of caution –
As with all medicines, always follows the instructions on the strip. Prolonged use of painkillers will eventually cause withdrawal headaches, they should not be taken continuously for more than a few days at a time.
Relaxation techniques include:
* applying a hot bag on the forehead or neck
* applying some pain relief balm on the forehead
* exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or relaxation exercises
* Chiropractic manipulation helps alleviate tension headaches caused by muscle strain due to poor posture. If a person has to sit for long periods, work at a computer, or perform repetitive movements, chiropractic helps reduce the frequency of headaches.
* Acupuncture may also help reduce pain and frequency of headaches. It is widely believed that the thin needles used stimulate the nervous system to release endorphins or other chemicals and hormones that affect pain perception.
For chronic headaches, consult a physician, who will find out the exact cause and provide drugs accordingly. People who get chronic headaches should avoid analgesics altogether.
A balanced diet and regular exercise will contribute to general health and wellbeing, and this may help make tension headaches less likely.
Preventive measures for a headache –
* Exercise moderately but regularly.
Avoid exercising in very hot weather.
* Reduce stress
* Identify triggering factors such as food, tobacco, alcohol. Foods typically include chocolate, dairy products, and caffeine.
* Avoid regular use of pain relievers.
Home remedies for headache –
* Eat an apple with a little salt on an empty stomach everyday and see its remedial effects.
* Mix 1/4 teaspoon of clove powder in one teaspoon of cinnamon oil. Apply mixture to the area of pain. This is very effective Home Remedy for Headache
* Place your thumbs right in the centre of each temple. Massage firmly using a circular motion until you feel respite.
* Eat 10-12 almonds, for a migraine headache.
* Put your hands in hot water, which pulls out the pressure from head.
* Crush onion and apply the paste on the head. Or roast some dry ajwain seeds, tie it in a muslin cloth and sniff repeatedly for relief. This is also useful Home Remedy for Headache
* Curd should be avoided, especially at night.
* Carrot juice along with spinach, or beet and cucumber juice, has been found beneficial in the treatment of migraine.
* Try to relax, and keep mind free from anxiety, anger, mental tension and worry.
* Make a paste of 10-15 basil leaves (tulsi) with 4 cloves and 1 teaspoon dried ginger and apply to forehead for sinus headache. This is very fine Home Remedy for Headache