Migraines and other types of headache -- such as tension headache and sinus headache -- are painful and can rob you of quality of life. Migraine symptoms include a pounding headache, nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Headache remedies include various types of pain relievers. Migraine treatments may also include antinausea drugs and medications to prevent or stop headaches.
What are Headaches?
A headache is a characterized by aching pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, face or neck. Most headaches occur biologically outside the skull in the blood vessels, nerves, and muscles that surround the head and neck. When the muscles or blood vessels swell, they put pressure on the nerves. The nerves in turn send pain messages to the brain, and the individual suffers from a headache.
Headaches are a very common medical ailment and can have a profound effect on people’s working and personal lives. Research shows that seven in ten people have at least one headache a year, and approximately forty-five million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. While some people have headaches frequently, others may seldom have them. Often, people who suffer from headaches simply need to make a few lifestyle changes to avoid them.
The pain can be mild or severe, and can occur occasionally or frequently. While the vast majority of headaches are not life-threatening, they can occasionally be due to a more serious underlying cause, such as a tumor or stroke. The most common types of headaches include tension, migraine, and cluster headaches.
What Causes Headaches?
There are a number of contributing factors which may cause headaches. Some may be due to hunger and dehydration, while others may be due to severe illnesses such as meningitis or tumors.
The common causes and triggers of day to day headaches include:
- Emotional stress
The constriction of blood vessels or the tightening of facial and scalp muscle when feeling negative emotions can all result in decreased blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which can lead to a headache.
- Illnesses: Sinus infections, eyestrain, vision problems, allergies, dental infections, grinding and clenching of teeth, viral infections, urinary tract infections, and head injuries can all cause headaches.
- Insomnia: The lack of sleep or sleep disorders can cause muscle tension, which can lead to headaches.
- Food sensitivities: Chocolate, caffeine, dairy products, food additives like nitrates, nitrites and monosodium glutamate are well-known headache triggers
- Skipping meals: Irregular meals and fad diets can lower blood sugar levels and give you a headache. Dehydration is also a common cause of headaches.
- Alcohol & drugs: The consumption of alcohol, prescribed medication, cocaine, amphetamines, and diet pills can lead to headaches.
- Rebound headaches: Regular use of some painkillers may result in a rebound headache once the painkiller begins to wear off. Headaches may also occur during withdrawal from addictive substances such as drugs, caffeine, and prescription medication.
- Other factors: Glare, poor lighting conditions, physical exertion, and chemical sensitivities also causes headaches.
Help for Headaches
Generally, over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen are widely used to alleviate symptoms. If you suffer from chronic headaches, your doctor will more than likely prescribe medication such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and calcium channel-blockers to prevent headaches before they occur.
While these conventional medications do reduce the pain, they are heavy-strength medications, and can produce harmful side effects and the risk of addiction. Always research side effects, potential for addiction, and alternatives available before deciding on a treatment plan.
Natural and alternative therapies can be used to help manage headaches safely, without the risk of addiction.
- Biofeedback and relaxation therapy
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Herbal remedies
Herbal and homeopathic remedies can offer an effective natural solution and can be of assistance in alleviating the painful and discomforting symptoms of a headache. Herbs such as Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens/Capsicum spp.), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita,) Dong quai (Angelica sinensis), Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) and Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo biloba) can be extremely beneficial in helping to soothe pounding headaches. In addition, studies have suggested that the herb Feverfew, when used regularly, can help to eliminate or greatly reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines.
In taking a holistic view of your health, you can address many factors that contribute to optimal physical, mental and emotional well-being. Natural and herbal remedies can be used to help address the root causes of the ailment and not just the symptoms. A Naturopath or Homeopath will be able to advise you on which treatment best suits your needs.
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