Lifestyle changes may be better than doctor visit for HEADACHES

Do you know that there are approximately 12 million Americans go to the doctor every year seeking help for headaches? A quarter of this population suffers from recurrent severe tension headaches or migraines.

When you think about it, its quite strange how a headache even exist the thought that your brain itself can’t feel pain, so why exactly would your head feel this continuous pain? Well experts think that surrounding tissues, brain chemicals, blood vessels and nerves produce the pain signals. Associate Professor of Neurology  at School of Medicine at UCLA Charles Flippen MD, states that we are fortunate now because we know a lot more than we did 20 years ago about what causes headaches, we know what areas of the brain are generating pain, but we don’t have the whole picture.

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Now let discuss the 5 types of headaches:

1.  Tension Headaches are the most common types of headaches especially in adults, and commonly referred to as stress headaches, suffers claim that it feels like a mild to moderate constant ache, tightness or pressure around the forehead or back of the head and neck that can appear periodically such as episodic or chronic. Episodic occurs less that 15 days per month or daily these can last 30 mins to several days and chronic which would occur more than 15 days per month  where the severity increases with frequency.  Studies show that between 30-80% of adults suffer from occasional tension headaches while approximately 3% suffer chronic daily tension headaches. An alarming fact is that women is twice more likely to suffer from tension-type headaches as men.

2.  Cluster Headaches these affect more men than women and are considered recurring headaches that occur in groups or cycles. These are sudden with an intense, severe or debilitating pain in or around one eye on one side of your head, accompanied with watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose. The causes of a cluster headache is unknown, and people often feel restless and unable to get comfortable, cluster headache is considered one of the most painful types of headache, but are rare and not life threatening.

3.  Sinus Headaches occurs when the sinus becomes inflamed, most  often due to an infection, allergic reaction or tumor. This inflammation causes swelling and increased mucus production and the channels can become blocked. These are air-filled cavities located in the forehead, cheeks bones and behind the bridge of the nose. The increase pressure in the sinuses causes headache. The pain is usually intensified with sudden head movement or straining.

4.  Rebound Headaches the theory surrounding this type of headache is that the regular, long-term use of medication to treat headaches can cause the brain to shift into an excited state, triggering more headaches. Another is that rebound headaches are a symptom of withdrawal as the level of medicine drops in the blood stream.

Source: Atlanta Migraine Headache Treatments 

5.  Migraine Headaches it is estimated that between 15-20% of people with migraines experience visual distortions and hand numbness. Migraine is a throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. Migraine is not just a bad headache the attack is most often accompanied by extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell.This pain often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days if no medication is taken with 1 in 6 women suffering from migraines daily

There is no single reason why people get headaches, although migraines are associated with having a genetic component and usually a trigger, but it must be noted that the trigger is different for different people. Headache triggers includes but not limited to diet, too much sugar, certain types of alcohol, sleep patterns, stress, lack of exercise or a combination of others.  National Headache Foundation states that a person who suffers from headache should first consult a doctor to have a thorough medical history done which should include headache patterns, disability and mood assessment before a comprehensive remedy could be prescribed.


3 lifestyle changes that can reduce your headaches

  • Modify you diet – certain types of food seem to trigger headaches in some people, in particular chocolate and alcohol, also the lack of sufficient water in your diet.  A great meal to help rehydrate yourself according to Catherine Roberts top health expert is salads she claims that lettuce and spinach leaves has a high water and fiber content but low level of nutrients, giving the body a great feeling. Bananas are also great to eat when trying to relieve a stubborn headache, since they are high in magnesium which relaxes your blood vessels and ease head pain. Bananas are also high in potassium which is an essential part of balancing the body’s electrolyte. Experts recommend to keep a food diary in order to determine what is triggering your headache.
  • Develop a good exercise routineRichard Lipton, neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York states that an excellent headache management is either walking, biking or any other moderate physical exercise for thirty minutes, three times a week, although there is no clear indication as to how it helps but  it reduce stress which is a cause of headaches, when you exercise the brain releases certain chemicals that blocks pain signals but also help to alleviate anxiety and depression. A small Turkish study reported that participants following a thirty (30) minutes treadmill or other aerobic workout reported fewer and milder migraines. Point is to choose a plan after consulting your doctor that you enjoy and start slowly.
  • Adjust your sleeping patterns – Headaches do one of two things keep you from falling asleep or wake you up at night, as well as are triggered by poor sleep at night. The recommended standard time of sleep is eight hours, experts claim that headache suffers could benefit from sticking to a regular sleeping hours. A good night’s rest with a proper supportive pillow and positioning, while ensuring that your head is not twisted one side or tucked into your chest can relieve and reduce the occurrence of headaches.  Save your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy reduce the distraction by removing the television or not taking working materials into your bed.

Although headaches are a daily challenge for a significant number of us, simple lifestyle choices can help, believe in your own ability to take control of your health. The important thing is to determine what triggers your headaches, try keeping a diary documenting when the headache started, what you were doing at the time, duration and what provided relief, eventually you may be able to prevent your migraines by changing patterns in your daily life.


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