By admin | January 15, 2013
Headaches have been a constant human complaint through the ages and the digital age has introduced us to new discomforts from staring at computers! It can help to understand a little about why we humans suffer from them so often and how to find some relief. Natural Headache relief is the goal of most people who suffer frequent headaches. Many people are uncomfortable about using drugs to relieve their headaches on a regular basis. There are far too many different types of ‘so called’ therapies for relief of tension or migraine headaches for any one person to try them all. In this article we explain the reasons for headaches and offer some links to help you find the right approach. How can you find the right solution to your headaches?
Trying to find the right treatment approach to your headache symptoms
can be a very difficult process. First, you need to understand the underlying causes for your headache. The word ‘Headache’ is not a good enough diagnosis… you already know that your head hurts! We first need to understand that not all headaches are alike. Some headaches are minor and transitory, some are recurrent or severe. Some affect one side of your head, others can affect the base of your skull, behind your eyes or inside your sinuses. Some come on from neck strain, overwork or stress, some come on from certain dental problems, foods, dieting or hormonal changes.
Below you’ll find a description of the most commonly understood headache types and some treatment options.
Please note: All frequent headaches should be investigated by a doctor.
Chronic tension headaches are the most common of all, they can come from emotional stress, anxiety or depression, fatigue, bad diets, alcohol, smoking or other environmental pollutants. Most commonly, they stem from physical musculo skeletal strains that are aggravated by one or more of these. The tension and inflammation in the muscles of the neck and shoulders rises to a point where the free and easy flow of lymphatic fluids and blood is relatively impeded. A congestive state develops leaving you feeling vague, irritable, distracted and unable to concentrate.
The tension also pulls on the attachments of muscles and tendons to your cranium and cervical spine causing them to become inflamed and tender. This inflammatory process tends to aggravate the initial symptoms even further so the overall ‘headache’ can become quite distressing. Chronic or recurrent tension headaches may also accompany periods of emotional depression or anxiety.
Many patients report they are often relieved by gentle musculo skeletal articulation from professional practitioners in Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic or Massage. Other treatments by professionals in dentistry, acupuncture or naturopathy also offer approaches and treamtents for common headaches. We need to make sure that our musculo skeletal balance, diet, physiology and general lifestyle are not conspiring to create the circumstances for a headache to occur.
Migraine Headaches are not the same as Tension headaches and although they can share many of the symptoms, their onset, physiology and course are quite different. Migraine headaches often start with some disturbances to your vision, like flashing lights or blurred spots of vision or they may begin with the sense of an odd taste or smell, or even some tingling in your face or limb. This can be very alarming to the patient and it can mimic or seem like a cardiovascular stroke when severe.
This initial stage called a ‘prodromal phase’ usually resolves in about 15-30 minutes but is most often followed by severe pain on one side of the patients head. This pain can last from anywhere between 3 and 36 hours! Some people may even experience pain and nausea for days on end. All severe migrainous attacks should be investigated by a doctor. However, most migraines resolve completely and do not show a distinct cause or any underlying pathology.
The cause or reason for the two phases has been observed as being the result of some blood vessels in the brain constricting for a short period of time, depriving the surrounding tissue of an appropriate blood supply. This ‘Vaso-constriction’ is followed by a ‘Vaso-dilation’ and the pain sensitive nerve endings in the vessel walls are triggered by the increased blood flow. The causes and processes of migraine headaches vary tremendously from hormonal, diet, allergies, muscolo-skeletal, liver function, cardio-vascular etc… Most migraines can be managed by the use of appropriate medication.
Like ‘Tension headaches’, many patients report their symptoms are often relieved by gentle musculo skeletal articulation from therapies such as Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture etc… Also, there are many herbal or naturopathic preparations available, like ‘feverfew’, that many patients report significant relief from use. It is important for you to see a doctor first if you have experienced true migraines before and have not consulted a physician. Migraines can sometimes be a result of another underlying condition and seeing the doctor will eliminate any more serious conditions.
Other types of Headaches:
Sinus headaches: Often occur after a cold or condition that may have caused a sinus infection. Simple massage and cold presses can relieve the symptoms but an ongoing infection should be investigated by a doctor.
Hormonal headaches: Can be similar to migraines, they both may affect only one side of the head and are often accompanied with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to lights or noise. A lot of women experience these headaches during the monthly menstral cycle or during the onset of menopause. These should be investigated by a doctor.
Cluster headaches: These come in groups of 1-4 in a day, often in a set cluster period that can occur over a few of days but could also extend to months. These should be investigated by a doctor.
Pathologic headaches: These are rare headaches that result from a skull or brain abnormality. These could include benign or malignant tumors, meningitis, infections, aneurisms, encephalitis or a brain abscess. These conditions are usually only found during medical examinations.
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