Healthy living has become the number one priority for majority of people across the globe. The sedentary lifestyles that modern people lead coupled with their unhealthy eating habits have however worked to undermine this cause. One of the most common disruptions to healthy living happens to be a headache. If there's one pain that every individual understands then it must be that of an aching head. However, not everybody understands what headaches are all about, from their causes to how they can be prevented. If you fall in this category, then this is the time to sit back and prepare for one of the most important reading sessions you have heard in a long time.
Headaches can simply be described as feelings of pain within the head and/or upper neck. Unfortunately, very many people suffer from this disorder, making it very difficult for health practitioners to diagnose the condition. This is why in 2007, the International Headache Society decided to come up with a new classification that will hopefully assist in diagnosis. The three major categories of headaches agreed upon are primary, secondary as well as facial pain, cranial neuralgias and other headaches. Primary headaches entail tension, migraines, cluster headaches and other not so common types. On the other hand, secondary headaches result from an underlying problem in the structure of the head or neck.
Causes of Headaches
Now that you have a better understanding about the various kinds of headaches, you can now find out what causes this very uncomfortable condition. The best way to deal with any problem is to examine the root cause, and headaches will not be any different. When studying headaches, it is important to classify the causes depending on the type of headache being discussed. Tension headaches, the most common type, result whenever there are tightened muscles in certain areas of the head, neck or even scalp. The headaches, which are usually common in adolescents and adults, could be caused by:
- Staying in one position for too long
- Working in an improper position for long
- Poor body posture
- Clenching of the jaws
Adolescents are likely to suffer from this condition due to their predisposition to depression, stress and anxiety.
The other less common type of headache is the cluster headache. This type only affects 1 in every 1000 people, though is common in men who are in their late twenties. The causes of cluster headaches are pretty much uncertain as they could result from a part of the brain that has started to malfunction, probably the hypothalamus. However, it is known that cluster headaches:
- Could be genetic: This is because they tend to recur in certain families.
- Could be provoked by significant changes in sleeping patterns.
- Could be triggered by certain medication such as nitroglycerin, which is used in the treatment of heart disease.
When under the susceptible period of cluster headaches, substances such as alcohol and cigarettes ought to be avoided. This is because research has shown that they will boost the chances of actually developing the headache.
Symptoms of Headaches
Similarly, the symptoms exhibited will depend very much on the type of headache someone is suffering from. Some of the symptoms for tensions headache include:
- Pain beginning at the back of the head and extending all the way to the upper parts of the neck. Patients will describe such pain as some band-like pressure or tightness.
- Some patients feel like a pressure band has encircled the head. This pressure is usually most intense just above the eye brows.
- Many times, the pain is usually mild, i.e. not to a disabling extent. In addition, the pain can be described as bilateral wince it affects both sides of the head.
- The pains felt bring about increased sensitivity to sound and light.
- The pains are sporadic, infrequent and exhibit no patter. The pain could however become daily in some people.
As for cluster headaches, the symptoms could include:
- Pain that ideally occurs twice a day, though the frequency is higher in some people. Every single attack will last for a period of about thirty to ninety minutes.
- The pain attacks tend to recur at about the same time. They could even reawaken you from sleep.
- The pain is usually excruciating, located behind or just around the eye.
Perhaps the biggest pointer is the fact that the nose towards the infected side could become runny and congested.
Headache Home Remedies
It would be very pointless to walk you through the various types of headaches and their causes and leave it at that. At the end of the day, it is the remedies you are interested in so as to know what you can do in case of an attack. Headaches have become extremely common and some people now think they are part of normal living. A headache is just like any other illness and should be given adequate medical attention. Remember that a headache could be a pointer to a more serious medical condition so you just can't afford to sit there and do nothing about it. In this section, you will learn of some of the home remedies for headaches that you can use to prevent headaches from disrupting your life. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Peppermint Oil– Recent studies have found that peppermint oil has the capacity to help relieve headaches when applied on the fore head. The study also found that when the oil was applied on the forehead, it had the same pain relief properties as those of acetaminophen. However, further research is needed to determine the true healing properties of peppermint.
- Valerian– Valerian is also another herb that can be used to treat headaches. It is an herbal relaxant that is often used for the treatment of insomnia. People who suffer from tension headaches can benefit greatly from this herb. It can be taken in capsule form as most people cannot bear its taste and smell in tea. It should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women.
- Butterbur– Butterbur on the other hand can be used to reduce the symptoms of migraines. Recent studies suggest that it works by reducing the migraine episodes. Similarly, it ca be used to effectively treat headaches. Pregnant women are however advised against using this herb because it can cause a miscarriage. Women who are breast feeding should also avoid the use of the herb. The recommended dose of the herb is 75mg but it is better to seek the services of a qualified herbalist who will prescribe to you the proper dose. This herb should e taken twice a day.
- Feverfew– The feverfew herb has been used for several years by traditional herbalists to treat head aches. According to a recent study by Mary Land Medical Centre, the herb can be used to treat migraines also. In the event that you are taking anticoagulant medications, it is important to avoid taking feverfew because it has blood thinning properties. The recommended does of the drug is 250mcg everyday. However, the exact properties of the drug are yet to be pointed out and may require further investigation or study in order to determine what they are.
Diet for Headaches
As states previously, headaches are as serious as any other medical disorder. This therefore means that the kind of diet you subscribe to has a huge bearing on your chances of developing headaches. There are many foods that we consume heavily oblivious of the fact that they increase chances of getting an attack. Some of the foods that could trigger headaches include:
- Red wine and alcohol
- Chocolate and ice cream
- Cured meats
- Aged cheese
- Nitrates and sulfite foods
Reducing the quantities consumed of such substances could go a long way in keeping you away from the pharmacy.
Recent studies have revealed that omega-3 fatty acids can help in preventing migraines. These fatty acids can easily be obtained by continuously incorporating fish in your diet, as they occur a lot in fish oils. This could help in reducing the frequency of cluster headaches.
Prevention of Headaches
It is true that there are far too many remedies one can embrace when faced with headaches. However, it is much wiser to find ways of preventing these headaches rather than going for the remedies all the time. Furthermore, many headache medications come with unpleasant side effects that could have a bearing on your future health. Here are some measures to help you prevent both tension and cluster headaches:
- Regular exercising: Headaches often arise due to improper functioning or poor supply of oxygen to the brain. All these could easily be rectified by engaging in regular physical exercises.
- Biofeedback training: This is a medical technique that trains people to control body responses that help in pain reduction. This form of training can help you ease muscle tension, one of the biggest causes of headaches.
- Cognitive behavior therapy: This is a type of talk therapy designed to help you in stress management. Stress is a major cause of tension headaches and must therefore be put in check to prevent attacks.
A number of medications could also be taken to especially reduce the risk of cluster headaches. These medications include prednisone, lithium and several other antidepressant drugs.
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