Causes, signs, symptoms and remedies
Headache is a broad and general term to describe pain located in the head.
There are many different types of headache, some of them are so frustrating they can have a significant impact on people’s everyday life.
NHS guidlines mention that you should call 111 or get an urgent GP appointment if there is:
1. Double or blurred vision accompaining the headaches
2. Jaw pain while eating
3. A sore scalp
4. Numbness or loss of muscle power in the arms or legs
You should also get an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if your child is under 12 and:
The headache is so strong it wakes them up at night
The headache is present when they wake up in the morning
The headache gets progressively worse
The headache is triggered or aggravated by sneezing, coughing, or bending forward
There is also vomiting
The eyes seem to point in different directions (squinting).
Our advice is to take a new headache very seriously. By “new” we mean something you never had before, not in terms of intensity (how strong?) but in terms of quality (does it feel like something completely new?). It can be the sign that something really serious is going on.
Types of headaches
Headaches can be classified into several types, each with its distinct characteristics and underlying causes. Some of the most common types include tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches.
Tension headaches: tension headaches are the most prevalent type and often described as a dull, aching pain that wraps around the head. They are frequently caused by muscle tension in the neck and scalp, stress, and poor posture. Spending long hours in front of a computer, holding stress in the upper body, and insufficient breaks during work can contribute to tension headaches.
Migraines: Migraines are severe and recurrent headaches that typically affect one side of the head. They are often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. Migraines can be triggered by various factors, including certain foods (such as aged cheeses, processed meats, and caffeine), hormonal changes, environmental stimuli, stress, and lack of sleep.
Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches are rare but extremely painful. They occur in clusters or cycles, with intense pain typically centered around one eye or temple. Cluster headaches can be associated with eye redness, tearing, and nasal congestion. The exact cause of cluster headaches is not fully understood, but they are believed to involve abnormalities in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that regulates sleep-wake cycles.
Causes of headaches
The causes of headaches can be multifactorial and vary depending on the type of headache experienced.
Dehydration: For tension headaches, dehydration is a common trigger. Insufficient water intake can lead to reduced blood volume and blood flow to the brain, resulting in headaches. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day is essential to maintain hydration and prevent such headaches.
Muscle tension and poor posture: As mentioned earlier, tension headaches can be caused by muscle tension in the neck and scalp, often resulting from stress and poor posture. Long periods of sitting in front of a computer or bending over smartphones can strain the muscles and trigger headaches.
Triggers for migraines: Migraines can be triggered by various factors, and these triggers can vary from person to person. Some common migraine triggers include certain foods (such as chocolate, aged cheeses, and artificial sweeteners), alcohol, caffeine, hormonal changes in women, stress, bright lights, strong smells, and changes in sleep patterns.
Cluster headaches: The exact cause of cluster headaches remains unclear, but abnormalities in the hypothalamus are believed to play a role. Cluster headaches are often characterized by sudden onset and severe pain, and they tend to occur in cyclical patterns.
It has also been researched that the gallbladder could play a role in triggering headaches.
Treating headaches often involves a comprehensive approach that includes lifestyle modifications, professional interventions, and self-care strategies.
Drinking more water: For tension headaches caused by dehydration, ensuring proper hydration is crucial. Drinking an adequate amount of water daily helps maintain optimal blood flow and reduces the risk of headaches triggered by dehydration.
Chiropractic adjustment: For tension headaches related to muscle tension and poor posture, chiropractic adjustments can be beneficial. Chiropractors can perform spinal manipulations and adjustments to realign the spine and alleviate tension in the neck and upper back, which may contribute to headaches.
Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing headaches, especially migraines. Identifying and avoiding triggers, such as specific foods and stressors, can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, managing stress through relaxation techniques (like yoga and meditation), and engaging in regular exercise may also provide relief for migraine sufferers.
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be effective in alleviating mild to moderate headaches. For more severe or frequent headaches, prescription medications, including triptans and ergotamines, may be prescribed to manage migraines.
Biofeedback and relaxation techniques: Biofeedback and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, can help manage stress and tension, which are common triggers for headaches.
Dietary changes: For individuals with migraines triggered by specific foods, making dietary changes to avoid those triggers can be beneficial. Keeping a headache diary to track food intake and headache occurrences can help identify potential triggers.
Adequate sleep: Ensuring sufficient and consistent sleep can contribute to headache prevention, as sleep disturbances and irregular sleep patterns can trigger headaches in some individuals.
Headaches come in various forms, each with its unique causes and triggers. Tension headaches may be related to muscle tension and poor posture, while migraines can be triggered by various factors such as specific foods, stress, hormonal changes, and environmental stimuli. Cluster headaches are less common but excruciating and often occur in cycles. Proper hydration, chiropractic adjustments, lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, and, in some cases, medications can play essential roles in headache management. If headaches become frequent, severe, or interfere significantly with daily life, seeking medical evaluation and guidance is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for effective headache management.
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Chiropractic care has been proven to be effective in managing a long list of conditions like sciatica, lower back pain, neck pain, headaches/migraines and much more. If you have any question, get in touch with our Poundbury clinic team; we will reply within a few hours.
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