Headaches are one of the most misunderstood areas of health. A headache is something that is thought of as normal and “everyone gets them”. A common answer to “How often do you get headaches?” is “No more than the next person”. Headaches, although common, are not normal. The headache itself is a symptom of an underlying problem.
There are many types of headaches. The most common are posted below with a brief description as well as the best ways to manage them:
A migraine is described as a recurrent moderate to severe headache. It is often a throbbing type headache and is preceded by an aura. This could include visual changes, nausea, and sensitivity to light among other things. The most widely accepted reason as to why migraines occur is due to a problem in the central nervous system and potentially a problem in the vascular system also.
Migraines are often found to have triggers whether this is stress, certain foods, or an accident. It is important to try to distinguish what the problem is in order to attempt to manage them. If you have migraines try to cut out chocolate and alcohol, as well as starting an exercise regime and having your neck checked out. There is evidence to suggest that with chiropractic treatment to the neck that this reduces the frequency and intensity of headaches.
Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. They are described as constant pressure around the head that often feels like a tight band. Tension type headaches can occur as a one off episode or can occur quite regularly (chronic). The most widely accepted theories are that of increased muscle tension due to stress, sleep deprivation, bad posture, or eye strain and that there is probably a problem in the central nervous system.
Like migraines it is important to get to the cause of the problem. Try to reduce stress, improve posture, have your eyes tested, and potentially have a massage. A massage may help relieve the muscle tension and reduce the frequency or intensity of the headaches.
Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that arise from the top of the neck. The joints at the top of the neck when inflamed can refer pain to the back, side, and front of the head. This is usually due to bad posture, stress, and sleep deprivation among many other things.
In order to get to the cause of the problem, the neck needs to be checked. If the joints at the top of the neck can be brought back to normal function then the headaches should disappear.
In conclusion, it is important to determine what type of headache you are suffering with by visiting a health care professional (chiropractor, osteopath, GP). As recently reviewed in the NICE guidelines, long term usage of painkillers for headaches can be harmful to your health. Once you know the diagnosis this can give you a much clearer idea in what you may need to change to attempt to reduce the frequency and intensity of your headaches. In general though, stress is a major factor. If you attempt to reduce stress, exercise regularly, and eat well then this is a solid first step to being rid of your headaches.