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Friday, October 8, 2010

How to Stop Headaches

101 Everyday Tips for Preventing (And Treating) HeadachesJust about three out of four persons suffer from headache each year. Headache is seldom a symptom of an underlying brain disease, even when the pain is intense. The two main types of headache are migraine and tension headache which are described below.

Headache - Migraine
Migraine is a common and painful headache that typically occurs on one side of the head, often begins at puberty or early adulthood, runs in families and tends to recur. More women than men suffer form migraines (about 75% of the cases), usually before menstruation, with the attacks tapering off after menopause.

Migraine without aura:
  • Pain, usually felt on one side of the head. It gradually builds up to full throbbing intensity and is aggravated by movement, light or noise.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Migraine with aura:
  • An aura (unusual sensation) coming about 20 minutes before headache. The symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, enlarging blind spots, flashing or zigzagging light, strange noises or smells, and numbness in one side of the body.
  • Same symptoms as common migraine, but the onset of pain is more abrupt.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • In rare cases, paralysis on one side of the body.

The cause of migraine not yet fully known, but attributed by many experts to chemical inflammation of the dural blood vessels, which stimulate the nerve endings. Factors that trigger the condition include:
  • Stress
  • Certain kinds of beverages, food and food additives (example alcohol, chicken liver, citrus fruits, monosodium glutamate, nitrites, red wine)
  • Head injury.
  • Sensory stimulation (example bright light, blaring sounds).
  • Overexertion.
  • Hunger.
  • Hormonal imbalance, oral contraceptives.

What you can do
  • Lie down and sleep or rest in a dark, quiet room.
  • Apply an ice pack to the painful area.
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Take simple painkillers.
  • Try to identify the factors that trigger the headache and avoid them.
  • Consult a doctor if the pain is unbearable or if the recommended measures offer no relief.

Headache - Tension Headache
A tension headache, unlike a migraine is characterised by generalised pain, a feeling of fullness or pressure over the top of the head or at back of the neck. It can occur everyday, is not associated with vomiting and is not aggravated by movement. The disorder is the most common type of headache, affecting people of all ages.

  • Dull, sometimes intense pain over the top of the head, the temples, or at the back of the neck.
  • Sore scalp and neck muscles.

The cause not yet fully known. Factors that trigger the condition include:
  • Stress (example anger, overexertion, shock).
  • Poor posture; not moving for a long period.
  • Depression.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Eye strain.

What you can do
  • Apply an ice pack to the head.
  • Take a hot or cold shower.
  • Massage head, neck, and shoulders.
  • Do stretching and other relaxation exercises.
  • Discontinue or minimise your intake of caffeine (example coffee, tea).
  • Avoid the glare of strong sunlight. Wear sunglasses if you have to stay outdoors.
  • Take simple painkillers.
  • Consult a doctor if the headache is continuous or recurs frequently. The headache is accompanied by fever and a stiff neck (may be meningitis), numbness or weakness in the limbs and visual or speech disorders (may be stroke). Slight exertion brings on an attack.

Prevention Tips
  • Relax. Learn relaxation techniques and meditation. Do stretching and relaxation exercises in between extended periods of work or sitting.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid or minimise stress.
  • Try to get enough sleep.
  • Minimise your intake of caffeine example, coffee or tea.
  • Avoid excessive sunlight by staying indoors on bright, sunny days or wearing sunglasses outdoors.
Related Tools / Resources:
WellPatch Cooling Headache Pads, Migraine
Kagan Migraine Magic Plus, Black


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