Headaches: A pain in the head

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Post by Tee on Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:01 am

July 06, 2011

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints. Most people have suffered from headaches at some time in their life.

While some headaches are only mildly irritating, others can be quite debilitating. Knowing the cause of your headache can be helpful in both the current treatment and future prevention.

Finding the exact cause can be difficult because there are so many possibilities. Headaches can be triggered by muscle tension, arthritis, infections, allergies, injuries or even hunger. Changes in the flow of blood in the vessels of the head or exposure to certain chemicals can also cause you to develop a headache.

There are different types of headaches as well as different causes.

Tension headache

Tension is the number one cause of headaches. A tension headache usually responds well to prevention and home treatment. More than 90 percent of headaches are tension related and can become more frequent and severe during times of emotional or physical stress.

A tension-type headache may cause pain or pressure all over your head or a feeling like there is a tight band around your head. Some people feel a dull or burning sensation above their eyes. The tightness and pain may also affect the muscles in your jaws, face, neck, shoulders and upper back. It is often difficult to pinpoint the center or source of the pain.

If you feel a tension headache starting here are some things you can try:

- Stop whatever you are doing and sit quietly for a few minutes.

- Close your eyes, inhale and exhale slowly while concentrating on relaxing your head and neck muscles.

- Take a stretch break or a short walk to get your circulation in motion.

- Gently and firmly massage your neck muscles.

- Lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth on your forehead.

- For pain in neck and shoulder muscles, apply a heating pad to the painful area, or take a warm shower.

Taking an over the counter pain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen often helps relieve a tension-type headache. Do not be too quick to reach for the medicine however, as taking pain medication too often may make headaches more frequent or severe.

Migraine headache

Migraines are usually one-sided headaches. This means the pain may be centered in one area of the head instead of all over. People suffering a migraine headache may also suffer from nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light or sound. The pain may range from mild to extremely severe.

While migraines are more common in women, men may also suffer from them. The frequency of migraines may increase or decrease at menopause, and hormone therapy has been known to cause migraines to worsen in some women.

People rarely start getting migraines after the age of 40, but if you are a migraine sufferer, you may continue to get them well into old age. This is especially true for men. If you know or suspect your headaches are of the migraine variety, you should consult your physician for information on causes and prevention as well as treatment.

Sinus headache

Sinus headaches, caused by allergic reactions to dust, pollen, animal hair or molds are very common as well. People who suffer from these types of headaches can prevent them by avoiding contact with the agent or by taking allergy medicines.


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