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Headaches - Symptom, Treatment, Causes And Home remedies

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2022

What is Headache?

Headache is the symptom of pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It occurs in migraines (sharp, or throbbing pains), tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches. Frequent headaches can affect relationships and employment. There is also an increased risk of depression in those with severe headaches

Headaches such as migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and tension headaches are really agonizing conditions that most of us have faced for at least once in their lives. Most of the time pounding headaches are treated with anti-nausea and pain relieving drugs. Headaches typically cause unwanted symptoms like nausea and vomiting and make us feel week throughout the day. When a headache occurs, the pain originates from the surrounding tissues around the brain or the skull, since anatomically speaking the skull or the brain itself do not have any nerves that may give rise to the sensation known as pain. Since pain are only felt in your metabolism when there are pain fibers in that particular part of our anatomy.

What are the 4 types of headaches?

There are many types of headaches but the common four types are as follows:

  • Migraine: In this type of headache, pain is experienced on the face and neck. The person might feel sensitivity towards light and sound. Also, pain is accompanied by nausea and blurry vision.
  • Cluster: Pain is generally centered on one side of the head, generally around the eye. It is accompanied by a small pupil and a runny nose. Sometimes one can see redness on the same side as well.
  • Sinus: This headache causes pain in the face, forehead, sinuses, eyes, and ears. One can also experience a runny nose, itching, swelling on the face, fever, etc.
  • Tension: This type of headache puts pressure on the forehead. It triggers pain on either side of the head.

What could headaches be a sign of?

Headaches are very painful. There are many signs that indicate the seriousness of the pain. Some common causes of headaches are:

  • Illness: If you are suffering from a high fever, cough, or cold, then it can trigger your brain nerves & muscles that cause pain in your head.
  • Stress: It is another cause of headaches. Depression or emotional stress, consuming drugs or alcohol, change in sleeping patterns, or excessive medications can lead to severe headaches.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to the strong smell, smoke, chemicals or perfumes can also contribute to triggering headaches.
  • Genetics: If somebody has a history of migraines then also there are chances that you might have the one too.

Are daily headaches normal?

Daily headaches can be annoying but it doesn’t necessarily indicate bigger difficulties. Though doctors are also doubtful about the real causes of headaches. But there are some factors that contribute to triggering chronic headaches, like:

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Hunger.
  • Intake of alcohol.
  • Consumption of caffeine.
  • Stress.
  • Dehydration.
  • Sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, and pungent smells.

Does headache mean stroke?

Headache doesn’t always mean it is serious. But if you observe a sudden and severe headache then it can possibly be a signal of a stroke. Immediately rush to the hospital before it is too late.

What causes headaches every day?

Causes of daily headaches:

Chronic headaches usually don’t have any identifiable cause. The following can be causative factors for non-primary chronic headaches:

  • Inflammation in and around the brain, including stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Too high or too low intracranial pressures
  • Brain tumor
  • Brain injury
  • Medication overuse

Anyone can have a headache but if the headache lasts for almost a week, then you might be experiencing a chronic headache. Headaches typically occur in 15 days or in a month. These can be either short-lasting or long-lasting. Long-lasting headaches last for more than 4 hours.

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What to eat to get rid of headaches?

  1. Baked Potato: Eating potassium-rich foods is known to alleviate headaches. A baked potato is a rich source of potassium.
  2. Watermelon: It contains essential minerals like magnesium that are helpful in preventing headaches. Other water-rich foods are berries, cucumber, melon, soups, oatmeal, tomatoes, and lettuce.
  3. Coffee: Vasodilation is a cause of headaches. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor that helps in relieving headaches. However, caffeine is also a diuretic and causes dehydration. Thus, coffee should not be consumed in excess amounts.
  4. Whole-grain toast: One must eat healthy carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, fruit and yogurt. Healthy carbohydrates lead to the release of serotonin which helps in alleviating mood and reducing pain.
  5. Almonds: They contain magnesium which prevents headaches by dilating blood vessels. Bananas, cashews, brown rice, apricots, avocados, legumes and seeds are also a good source of magnesium.
  6. Spicy salsa: If the headache is due to a sinus infection, it gets relieved by consuming spicy foods like salsa and hot peppers. These reduce the congestion and helps in opening of airways, thus lowers pressure and headache.
  7. Yogurt: Calcium-rich foods like fat-free plain yogurt with no added sugars are beneficial in relieving headaches.
  8. Sesame seeds: These are rich in vitamin E and improves circulation, thus preventing headaches.
  9. Spinach: It decreases blood pressure, prevents hangovers and alleviates headaches.

What pressure point gets rid of a headache?

  • Union Valley: It is found in the webs between thumb and index finger. These pressure points are used to relieve tension headaches.
  • Drilling bamboo: They are present near the corner of the eye in the indentations, where nose meets the ridge of the eyebrows. These points help in managing headaches caused by eyestrain and sinus pain.
  • Gates of consciousness: They are hollow areas between the two vertical neck muscles(underneath the neck base). These points give relief from headaches by putting pressure on the required point.
  • Third eye: These are present between the two eyebrows where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. This point gives relief from headache caused due to eye strain and sinus.
  • Shoulder Well: It is located at the edge of the shoulder, halfway between the shoulder point and the base of the neck. Pressure on these points relieve stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

What are the acupressure points for headaches?

Acupressure is an alternative therapy that is based on a Chinese traditional medicinal practice wherein pressure is applied to specific regions of the body to help the flow of blood circulation and to release the muscle tension. In this way pain, headache and other related ailments can be treated.

For treating headaches, the pressure at pressure point LI-4 is applied. This point is also known as the point of Hegu which is the location between the base of a thumb and the index finger. In order to relieve pain from headaches, this point is pressed in a circular position for about five times.

What are the home remedies for headaches?

  1. Drink plenty of water: Those who have frequent headaches should drink plenty amount of water to stay hydrated.
  2. Magnesium consumption: Treatment with 600mg magnesium citrate per day helped reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. It is best to start in small doses as it is known to have side effects like diarrhea.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol is known to increase the incidence of migraines in people who experience frequent headaches. It is a vasodilator and has dehydrating properties. Dehydration is caused due to the diuretic effect, making the body lose its fluid and electrolytes, further causing frequent headaches.
  4. Adequate Sleep: Sleep deprivation is known to either cause or worsens headaches. However, headaches are known to get worsened in people who sleep for too long as well. Hence, the key is to aim for an adequate amount of sleep.
  5. Avoid foods high in histamine: Histamines are known to worsen migraines. Some people fail to excrete histamine properly as they have impaired function of enzymes responsible for breaking it down. Reducing the intake of histamine-rich foods in such people proves beneficial in reducing the frequency or the intensity of headaches.
  6. Using essential oils: Applying peppermint oil on the temples of the forehead helps relieve tension headaches, whereas lavender oil proves helpful in relieving migraines and associated headaches when applied on the upper lip and inhaled.
  7. B-complex vitamins: Vitamin B helps against headaches. Supplements like riboflavin, B12, folate and pyridoxine reduce the headaches. They are considered safe to be taken on a daily basis as they are water-soluble and any excess can simply get flushed out.
  8. Cold compress: Applying cold compresses to the head and neck region reduces the inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, thus aid in reducing headaches.
  9. Coenzyme Q10: It functions as a powerful antioxidant. 100mg of its daily supplements reduced the frequency, severity and length of headaches.
  10. Diet: Aged cheese, chocolate, alcohol, citrus fruits and coffee are the most common triggers of headaches and should be avoided.
  11. Drink Caffeinated Tea or coffee: Tea or coffee helps in reducing the headache. Caffeine, when taken in the right amount, improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels by not only relieving headaches but also improving the efficacy of medications used to reduce headaches.
  12. Yoga: Doing yoga and meditation can help in reducing headaches.
  13. Avoid nitrates and nitrites: They are commonly used as preservatives to keep the food items fresh by preventing bacterial growth.them
  14. Exercise: A low level of physical activity is known to reduce headaches.

When should you be concerned about a headache?

Agree, that most headaches are extremely painful but it is not necessary that they can cause serious medical problems. When you discover that your pain is severe than normal or if any new symptom occurs, it is the right time to consult the doctor. If you experience the following symptoms while having a headache, immediately an emergency help:

  • Acute nausea and vomiting.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Sudden weakness, dizziness, unable to balance your body or falling.
  • Facing difficulty with speech or confused state of mind.
  • High Fever.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Headache that compels you to wake up during the night.
  • Headache that is prompted by doing physical activity or coughing.
  • Having a history of headaches.
Summary: Headache is one of the most common conditions which many people experience. The main symptom of headache is a pain in your face or head. Sometimes, it can be very sharp, constant, or dull. It can be treated with medication and by managing stress.

References

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Written ByDr. Arun Sharma MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro SurgeryNeurology
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