Headaches: Help and Solutions
Headaches -- we all get them from time to time. Headaches can occur as a mere nuisance, or can be serious enough to keep one in bed for a day.
Knowing warning signs and ways to attempt to reduce the onset of a headache can prove invaluable.
It is also good to note that certain foods can trigger headaches. Alcohol, chocolate, cheese, pickled foods, nuts, bananas, citrus fruits, monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast breads, coffee, tea and aspartame are among the most common triggers.
First, we can try to avoid a headache before it begins. There are a few things you can do to achieve this goal:
When we experience stress, our bodies respond with changes such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and more. Blood vessels constrict and tighten. When the stress is gone, the blood vessels dilate and may result in a headache.
Extended periods of stress are one of the most common reasons for headaches today. There are three courses of action you can take to help relieve your stress. One, check for signs of physical tension i.e., clenched jaws, teeth grinding, a feeling of pressure in your forehead as if there was a vice grip squeezing it. Try to consciously relax and do some stretching. Second -- and everybody's favorite -- get exercise. Exercise truly is a great stress reducer. Third, divert yourself. Take some time out to do something you enjoy and that will help you get your mind off the cause of the stress.
Eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet containing adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients aid the body in fending off stress. See also: Cleaning Up Your Diet.
Many naturopaths have known of the health benefits of cayenne pepper for migraine symptoms. Drinking an eight ounce glass of warm cayenne pepper water is what Dr. Christopher, famed herbalist and naturopathic doctor, termed "cayenne pepper tea." Start with a tiny bit of Organic Cayenne Pepper in half a glass of warm water, stir well, and drink. Follow with cold water to stop the burning sensation in your mouth. Work up to a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper in the warm water.
Get Enough SLEEP
Get plenty of sleep. Statistics show that over the past 20 years, the average Americans workload has increased by nearly 158 hours. For working mothers, it is worse. Those statistics show their workload to have increased by as much as 241 hours! Consequently, Americans are sleeping less to meet their demands.
Lack of sleep is a common cause of tension headaches. Those who do not get enough sleep find it more difficult to handle every day stress. In addition, a "weekend headache" can occur due to altered sleeping habits over the weekend. Try to get up and go to sleep at the same time everyday. Here are some tips for sleep:
- Use your bed primarily for sleeping. You will then associate being in bed with going to sleep.
- Do not go to bed with a full stomach.
- Develop a pre-sleep relaxation routine.
- Do not go to bed until you feel tired enough to fall asleep.
- Consider a supplement - but a natural, non-habit forming one such as Natural Sleep X.
Migraine headaches affect nearly 25 million in the U.S. every year. Three out of four migraine sufferers are women. Seventy percent of sufferers have family members with the condition and about 20 percent of migraine sufferer's experience "aura". This is a visual disturbance such as flashing lights or lines while suffering the pain of a migraine. Left untreated, a migraine can last up to 24 hours and in severe cases, several days.
Determine what type of headache you are experiencing.
There are four different categories of headaches. Knowing what type of headache you suffer from is the first step in learning how to cope with and/or treat your headache.
The sensation is that of a dull ache on both sides of your head. This type of headache is the one that feels like a tight band, or a vice grip, is running across your forehead.
A migraine is moderate to severe pounding or throbbing pain in your head. Commonly, it is only on one side. Nausea, vomiting, dizziness and sensitivity often accompany migraines to light and-or sound.
Contrary to popular belief, sinus headaches are not very common. Most who think they have a sinus headache are suffering a tension headache or possibly a migraine.
This type of headache is also uncommon but causes excruciating pain, sharp as a knife pain around one eye. Ninety percent of those who suffer this type of headache are men aged 20 to 30. If you feel you have or have had this type of headache, please see your physician.
"Mixed headache" is a term now used more frequently. What this usually pertains to is a variety of tension-type headaches and migraine. Often, when a person has suffered for years from one type of headache, they will develop symptoms of another. Experts now believe that the two forms may share a common mechanism in the brain.
Eyestrain headaches can result from contraction of muscles in and around the eye. Shifting the focus of your eyes from close up to far away can help. When you are going to be doing close-up work such as with a computer, take a few moments ever hour to look around a bit. While you are at it, stretch a little, too!
When to get help
If you suffer any of the following items, call your healthcare professional at once.
- Your headache worsens, or changes in character.
- You experience three or more headaches a week.
- You must take a pain reliever every day or almost daily, to relieve your headache symptoms.
Your headache includes by any of these symptoms:
- Stiff neck and/or fever
- Shortness of breath
- Unexpected symptoms that affect your eyes, ears, nose or throat
- Dizziness, slurred speech, weakness, numbness or tingling
- Confusion or drowsiness
- Persistent or severe vomiting
- Your headaches begin after, or are triggered by, head injury, exertion, and coughing, bending or intimacy.
- Your headaches begin after the age of 50.
If you consult your physician, it is a good idea to have a record of your headaches. Keep track of the frequency, duration, added symptoms and severity of pain. You could do this by creating a "Headache Diary". In addition, write down medications you have taken, and the amount taken, to relieve symptoms and whether or not they helped. Make note of the hours you sleep, especially on nights before the onset of a headache. You may even wish to keep track of the foods you eat and any events before the headache. So many factors can play a role in headaches; it is imperative that you have as much information possible to aid your doctor in treatment.
See also: Migraine Often Mistaken for Sinus Pain