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Are Headaches Driving you Nuts?

Do you suffer from headaches? I certainly do & have spent the last 25 years trying to work out how to stop them, or at least alleviate the pain. Did you know that headaches are the most common form of pain?

The are quite a few different Types of Headaches but the main culprits are:

Vascular Headaches

The most common type of vascular headache is migraine which are severe headaches occurring on one or both sides of the head. Migraines can also cause an upset stomach, sensitivity to light and sound, tingling or numbness. The symptoms can last for hours or days. More women than men suffer from migraine headaches, and women often experience more severe and longer-lasting symptoms. Migraines often run in families.

Migraines usually start in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, but the greatest number of people who suffer migraines are aged between 35 and 45 years. Migraines can be triggered by a change in hormones so some women report having fewer migraines after menopause.

Cluster headaches are not as common, affecting 1-2 people in every 1,000 causing severe pain in bursts of 15 minutes to three hours. The pain is usually located around one eye or side of the temple. A sufferer may experience one headache per day or up to eight per day with the cluster lasting four to 12 weeks per year.

Muscle Contraction Headaches

Muscle contraction headaches relate to muscles in the head tightening which causes pain. The muscle contraction may be caused by stress, a missed meal, dehydration, fatigue, eye strain, or poor posture. These headaches usually only cause mild to moderate pain and resolve fairly quickly.

Traction Headaches

Traction headaches are caused by intracranial mass lesions such as metastatic tumours, abscess, or hematoma. Also, diseases of the ocular, aural, nasal, and sinuses or dental structures can produce traction headaches. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause headaches as well as jaw and neck pain.

Inflammatory Headaches

Inflammatory headaches are symptoms of other health disorders. They can be as minor as a sinus infection and as major as a life threatening stroke. Inflammation headaches act as a warning sign for serious health conditions including diseases of the sinuses, spine, neck, ears, and teeth and require further medical attention.

Causes of Headaches

Every person is different and may suffer headaches for different reasons. I find that muscle tension from the gym, combined with stress (hello wife, mother & business owner). If you’re not sure what’s causing yours, try jotting down when, where & why you think your headaches may be from & seeing if you can find a pattern.

Common headache causes include:

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Changes in hormones

  • Overexertion

  • Dehydration

  • Poor sleep

  • Change in eating patterns

  • Medications and their overuse

  • Poor posture

Preventing Headaches

The prevalence of primary headaches can be reduced by knowing your headache triggers and avoiding them where possible and by:

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol

  • Regular exercise & stretching

  • Using relaxation techniques and reducing stress levels

  • Taking regular breaks from looking at electronic devices

  • Adopting good posture when sitting for long periods

How to Treat your Headaches

Most people suffering from a headache treat the pain by taking an over the counter pain killer. If you suffer from a headache three or more times per month, you should consider medical treatment.

But first, it is always best if you can treat the cause using simple lifestyle changes.

Tips To Try Before Popping a Pill

  • Drink more water

  • Regular exercise

  • Change to diet (try limiting gluten & sugar)

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Relaxation techniques

When to see your GP

You should see a doctor if regular headaches interfere with your daily activities. If you experience 15 headaches in a month for a period of three months, your headaches are considered chronic, and you should see a doctor.

Always seek medical attention if the headache is accompanied with a stiff neck, high fever, convulsion, loss of consciousness, speech difficulties, eye or ear pain or sudden change in vision and the combination can signal a life threatening emergency.


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