Headaches can be quite a pain…literally…. and given the fast paced, stressful lives we now live it’s really not that surprising that many of us suffer from them in varying degrees. If you do suffer from headaches it’s important to know that there’s different kinds which means there’s different ways of treating them.
Let’s start with the worst of the worst… Migraines. As a sufferer of migraines I will tell you that the excruciating pain of a migraine comes second only to childbirth as far as I’m concerned. Generally they seem to affect women more than men, that’s mainly due to hormonal changes, and they pain is often localised to one side of the head and can be accompanied with nausea, vomiting, tingling sensations in the arms, visual disturbances a sensitivity to both light and sound and in some rare cases it can affect speech.
The first thing to consider is avoiding triggers such as high histamine foods, late nights, stress, muscle tension, caffeine and also ensuring you’re getting good quality rest and relaxation and taking time out to reduce stress.
Feverfew is a herb which has success for a number of people with the ability to reduce the intensity and frequency of migraines so is taken daily as a preventative measure. Essential fatty acids will also help to reduce inflammation in the body, ginger tea can also help calm down the symptoms.
Then there’s the good old fashioned tension headache which is usually brought on by stress, staring at a computer muscle fatigue and muscle contractions in the neck and head. You’ll know them by their dull, steady pressure, almost like someones tightening a rubber band around your head and they can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 week.
The best way to deal with them is to take magnesium to relax the head, neck and shoulder muscles, stretch regularly, especially if you sit at a computer all day, have regular massages, learn to meditate (even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day – download an app to help you) and use warm compresses on your neck and shoulders to loosen the muscles.
Finally we have cluster headaches which are agonising and some would say are even more debilitating than migraines… They’re often triggered by drinking, smoking, stress, and typically come in episodic clusters with bouts of pain lasting for weeks or months followed by some periods of remission.
Symptoms will include excruciating pain, usually around the eye but it can be in the face, neck and shoulders plus you may also experience a drooping eyelid and reduced pupil size. Lying down will often make the pain worse and it’s thought that they’re a result of an imbalance in the hypothalamus gland. It’s also been shown that those prone to cluster headaches can also have abnormal levels of melatonin and cortisol during the attack and unlike migraines men seem to suffer more than women.
The key is then to practice the art of prevention by ensuring a regular sleep pattern is developed, drink plenty of water and herbal tea, cut back on caffeine and alcohol and quit the cigarettes. Plus make sure you keep up with the magnesium to keep muscles relaxed.
If you do suffer from constant headaches and some of this rings true for you it’s probably also a good idea to see your health professional to get a proper diagnosis.
Until next time, stay calm and stay healthy.