Headaches are one of the most common complaints in doctor’s offices today. In fact, the American College of Physicians reports that forty-five million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. More than just an annoying pain, headaches can greatly impact your quality of life. No matter what kind of headache you have, these tips can help reduce or even cure your headache.
Types of Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common kind of headache and often occur because of stress, bad posture or tense muscles. Sinus headaches are caused by sinus pressure due to allergies, inflammation or the common cold. Sinus headaches often cause pain behind the eyes and across the bridge of your nose.
About one million Americans suffer from cluster headaches, which cause a throbbing pain along one side of the skull and can last for several days. Migraine headaches are a debilitating kind of headache that can cause intense pain, nausea and sensitivity to light.
Certain substances can trigger and even intensify headache pain. According to the American Headache Society, caffeine, alcoholic beverages and artificial sweeteners are common triggers for headaches. The AHS also suggests controlling stress and getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night to avoid triggering a headache.
Lifestyle habits that can trigger headaches include fluctuations in blood sugar, changes in sleeping habits, and excessive exercise. For some people, specific foods can trigger headaches, including chocolate, citrus fruits and cured meats. Fatigue, eye strain and strong fragrances can also trigger headaches and should be avoided.
Analgesics are the most common kind of medication used to treat headaches, because they block pain receptors in the brain and are available at your local pharmacy. Your doctor can also prescribe stronger analgesics for more severe pain.
Muscle relaxants are quite effective for tension headaches, but often cause drowsiness for several hours after administration. Migraine headaches are the hardest kind of headache to treat, but new prescription medicines created specifically for migraine pain have proven very helpful for stopping or reducing migraines.
Research shows that holistic remedies are very effective for headache pain. In fact, a 2011 study published in the medical journal “Headache” revealed a definite connection between severe headaches and magnesium. Surprising results showed that 50 percent of study participants were severely deficient in magnesium. After supplementation with magnesium, headache symptoms drastically improved.
Dr. Alexander Mauskop of the New York Headache Center(1) states, "For the prevention of headaches I usually recommend 400 mg of magnesium oxide daily. It should be taken with food to avoid diarrhea, which is the only common side effect of this supplement. If diarrhea occurs with one type of supplement, such as magnesium oxide, another type, such as chelated magnesium (magnesium aspartate, glycinate, and other) may not cause diarrhea. For the acute treatment of headaches these supplements don’t work very well because besides possibly causing diarrhea, they take too long to get absorbed."
Other studies show that holistic treatments, such as meditation, relaxation techniques and behavioral therapy, reduce headache symptoms and may even prevent headache pain. Acupuncture and chiropractic treatment also showed promising results in headache-relief studies. As always, see your physician for a definite diagnosis before treating severe headache pain.
- NY Headache Center, http://www.nyheadache.com/blog/?p=128