Headaches tend to be an annoying disease that most people are being suffered. There are statistics showing that about 50-70 million Americans are having recurring headaches each year. In fact, a headache is such a common medical problem that most of us tend to overlook it or pop an over the counter pain killer and move on with our daily lives.
A headache is known as cephalalgia in medical terminology and causes pain in the head, forehead, temples, shoulder, eyes and neck region. The exact cause of headache is not known till date but it is believed to be triggered by various underlying causes such as stress, tension, intake of a faulty diet, sleep deprivation or organic illness.
Classification of headaches: The different types of headaches are classified on the basis of their frequency and duration as well as on the basis of an underlying medical problem. These include:
Episodic headaches: These headaches are experienced less than 15 days a month, are bilateral in nature and last from 30 minutes to about a week.
Chronic headaches: These headaches can be bilateral or unilateral in nature and occur more than 15 days in a month.
Primary headaches: These headaches are not caused by any underlying medical condition.
Secondary headaches: These headaches are the outcome of some other medical problems such as high blood pressure, sinusitis, brain tumor, hormonal imbalance, etc.
As per the International Headache Society (IHS) headaches can be differentiated from one another based on their frequency, duration, pain characteristics and accompanying symptoms. Diagnosing a headache is not all that easy because several types of headaches have similar symptoms. Some of the most common types of headaches are:
Migraine headache: A migraine headache is known to afflict over 17% women and 5% men each year in the United States. This type of headache is unilateral in nature meaning it affects only one side of the head. It is accompanied by an array of symptoms that include blurred vision, flashes of light, temporary blindness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, food cravings and sensitivity to smell and sound. The aura symptoms of migraine include peculiar sensations prior to a full blast attack and can be quite distressing.
Tension headache: This type of headache is also known as stress headache, ordinary headache or idiopathic headache. It is accompanied by mild to moderate pressing pain that is bilateral in nature and affects the head, facial region, and back of the neck. This type of headache can last from 1 hour to several hours and may occur 1-2 times a week. These headaches can be episodic as well as chronic.
Cluster headache: This type of headache is estimated to afflict about 500, 000 to 2 million Americans each year. Cluster headaches are also known as suicide headaches and are accompanied by excruciating pain with a cluster period lasting between 2-3 months. The pain is piercing in nature and is mostly experienced in the temples and behind the eyes. The duration of a single attack can last from 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Sinus headache: Sinus headache is characterized by pain in the head, behind the eyes, cheekbones, temples, and forehead. The pain tends to aggravate if you bend your head. Sinus headache is accompanied by nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and malaise.
After recognizing the different headaches, you may want to know how you can have the remedies and cures for this. Do refer here for more references:
Holistic Remedies for Frequent Tension Headaches
Holistic headache remedies fall into two categories: Those that provide relief from the headache you’ve already got and those that will help prevent headaches in the future.
For a head that’s aching in the present moment, here are several holistic practices you can try, either singly or in combination:
Tight neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles can cause a headache or make one worse. To relieve them, locate the sorest spots on the back and sides of your neck and on the tops of your shoulders and rub them or have someone else do so. Rubbing breaks up muscle knots, which constrict blood flow, and boosts circulation that carries away trapped toxins.
For best results, apply pressure for a few seconds before beginning to massage these areas. To increase relief, add an herbal liniment, especially one containing capsicum—but wash hands carefully afterward to avoid getting any of these liniments near your eyes the next time you wash your face.
The tension caused by anxiety is a great headache producer, so using herbs that relieve anxiety will also relieve anxiety-induced headaches. Kava-Kava, Valerian, Hops, and Passionflower are especially noted for their anxiety-reducing properties, as is the Chinese herbal compound known as Hepataplex, or long dan xie gan tang.
Stretch and breathe:
Stretching and deep breathing help release headache-causing toxins by increasing your brain’s oxygen flow. If you’re sitting or standing in one place and position for a long time, inhale as you lift your shoulders, then exhale as you roll them back and let them drop.
Go for the right smell:
Aromatherapy—the practice of using certain aromas and scents to alleviate physical and emotional problems—can work wonders in relieving headaches. Sniffing a few drops of peppermint, rosemary or eucalyptus oil placed on a cotton ball and held under the nose can bring instant pain relief, as can massaging a drop of rosemary oil into your each of your temples.
An added benefit for these remedies is that you can use them as singles or mix them without concern for side effects.
Long-term holistic remedies may include making lifestyle changes that commit you to a better diet, exercise and work schedule. Here are two long-term steps you should consider:
Making a conscious effort to do a better job of breathing can go a long way toward alleviating headache problems. Perhaps due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, most of us don’t breathe as deeply as we should or from the right parts of our bodies.
Good breathing comes from allowing your belly and lower abdomen to push air into your lungs rather than merely breathing from your chest. Because stress and tension can trigger shallow breathing, making a conscious effort to change breathing patterns is important.
Go for the negative:
Ions, that is. Using a negative-ion generator that freshens the air you breathe by removing unhealthy particles has been shown to relieve headaches and reduce the frequency with which they occur. Putting one in the room where you spend most of your time can make a huge difference in how well you feel.
Quick Tips For Headache Prevention
When it comes to headache prevention, there are a lot of different methods that you can follow. While some people can figure out what triggers their headaches and just avoid these things, other people can never really pinpoint why they get headaches.
For some, every day is a question as to whether a headache will start or not. Migraine sufferers especially have a problem with this since it can interfere with their career, their family life and indeed their own quality of life.
If you are getting a lot of headaches and want to know how to prevent them, here are some suggestions you can implement. You may want to try these 3 methods first before finding out for sure whether or not they are going to help.
1. Finding the Triggers
If possible, the most important thing you can do for headache prevention is to find the things that are triggering them. Even if you can only find one of them, it will still help greatly.
You may only have one thing that is triggering your headaches or you may have a lot of them. You might never discover what the cause of your headaches is, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
The more you examine your lifestyle and what you were doing before the headache started, the easier it is to find your triggers. Headache prevention is easy if you know what is causing your headaches. What is difficult is finding these triggers in the first place.
If you’re serious about finding out more about the causes of your headaches, you’ll need to start keeping track of everything you do during the day with a log or diary. This is the way you’ll be able to isolate any changes in your routine, any dietary indiscretions and anything else that could possibly be the cause of your headaches.
2. Relaxation Techniques
Since stress is a major contributing factor to a lot of headaches, you may want to consider using some relaxation techniques for headache prevention. Some people find that yoga is a relaxing way to relieve stress. Other people like to take a nice leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.
You’ll have to find your own relaxation technique that you feel comfortable with. It should be something that you really enjoy doing and you find relaxing at the same time. This is something that you’re going to want to make a habit to help with headache prevention, so it should be something that you really like doing.
The idea is to find some type of outlet to remove your stress. A creative person may want to use his talents, a sporting person may want to engage in the sport he loves, an animal lover may want to walk his dog. There is no set rule for relaxation. You need to do whatever it is that makes you more relaxed and releases your stress.
3. Avoiding Changes
Changes are a part of everyday life and everything will be different from one day to the next. While you can’t avoid changes altogether, fast changes can often lead to a headache.
Things like moving to a new house, changing schools, finding a new job, or losing one, are big changes that will affect your whole body. The stress levels will go up and sometimes there will be fear. And, quite often, there will also be a headache.
Some changes can’t be avoided while others can be. If you are headed for a big change in your life, then you should take a look at your options part of a headache prevention technique. Is there any way to make the change more gradual so that it is less stressful on your body?
For example, if you’re planning a move, can you take a few days to move your furniture instead of doing it all on the same day? Can you start living in the house gradually during the move?
If you suffer from migraines, you may want to take a look at making gradual shifts instead of fast changes. You certainly don’t want to end up with a major migraine the day after you move into your new home. This is the time to celebrate, not to hide in your room with the curtains drawn in agony.
When it comes to preventing headaches, you are either going to be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. You’ll have to take the responsibility of finding out for yourself what is causing your headaches. In the same light, you will have to determine what helps them.
Unless there is a physical cause for your headaches that can be determined by a doctor and medical tests, it’s up to you to learn more about yourself in order to come up with a list of headache prevention methods.
Don’t Pop Another Painkiller Or You Might Get Rebound Headaches
If you experience at least a dozen headaches each month, they may be rebound headaches. These headaches are the result of a cycle that occurs from the over-use of medications. You’ll get a headache and may take more than the recommended dosage of medication or you may even take medicine to prevent an anticipated headache that hasn’t even arrived yet.
Then your body negatively reacts to the pain reliever or preventer in the medicine, causing another headache. Simple pain relievers or combination pain relievers, medicines that have a combination of caffeine and acetaminophen working together, are the main causes of rebound headaches.
Specified pain relievers like migraine medicine, which may also use a combination of caffeine with its main pain-relieving ingredient, are another cause. The use of opiates for pain relief and your normal daily doses of caffeine, like sodas or coffee, also contribute.
Anyone with a history of migraines or tension headaches are potentially at risk although this is not typically an issue for those who use pain medication on a daily basis to treat arthritis pain.
Rebound headaches are often referred to as “medication overuse headaches”. Lots of the symptoms are those that occur with other types of headaches so the condition can be hard to diagnose at first.
Some people experience nausea (with or without vomiting), anxiety, irritability or depression. These are also some symptoms that can trigger a migraine. Other symptoms may include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems and trouble sleeping. All these things may lead to a headache of dull, achiness or one of throbbing pain.
The pain is usually at its worse as the medicine is beginning to wear off. These headaches usually occur every day, sometimes as soon as you awaken.
The main purpose of treatment for rebound headaches is to wean you from your dependency on pain relievers. This is first initiated by a strict medical restriction. Since you are essentially overcoming a form of addiction, withdrawal does usually occur.
As stated earlier, the headaches may actually become worse at this point because you are now dealing with the effects of the medicine wearing off. For some patients, this could result in a short hospital stay.
Sometimes, depending on the severity of the withdrawal, doctors may administer small doses of preventive medications like tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta-blockers.
There are other ways to treat the frequent pain of rebound headaches other than traditionally. Acupuncture is the most ancient technique. It is the use of thin needles pressed into the skin to help release natural painkillers and other chemicals into the central nervous system.
Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that teaches you to control your headaches by producing changes in bodily responses like muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. Hypnosis may be used to help you change your perception of pain and increase your ability for tolerance.
Meditation will let you focus on a simple activity, like breathing, to help you manage pain and reduce stress. Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and chiropractic care may also be used, but there is not much scientific support for these claims.
Besides withdrawal, other complications can slow down the process of recovery. Drug dependency is the main problem actually treated with rebound headaches, but some people also experience other complications. Over-use of some pain-relieving medication can lead to stomach ulcers, liver damage, and kidney problems.
There are several ways to help prevent going through the cycle of rebound headaches. The main thing to do is to avoid the normal headache triggers.
Get enough sleep. Changes in sleep patterns are usually one of the most blatant, yet overlooked causes of a headache. Don’t skip meals, but avoid foods that trigger headaches.
Exercise regularly. The physical activity associated with exercise can cause your body to release chemicals that may help block pain signals to your brain. Reduce stress and most importantly, quit smoking. Smoking can trigger headaches and make them worse.