Got a headache? Is your headache accompanied with nausea, vomiting and sometimes, sensitivity to light and sound? The experience can be very debilitating, affecting your overall daily routine. According to Transport Canada, 59% of Canadian adults report some kind of headache while 30% said they suffer from tension-type head pains. Only 17% reported their headaches as true migraines.
Headache is characterized by pain in the scalp, head, and neck or in all of these areas and if often musculoskeletal. Treatment for headache depends on the type and level of pain.
Pain relievers are usually our first resort, but often just mask the symptoms. Do you know that there are options to ease your headache without medication and permanently address its underlying causes? If you want to avoid medication or, if medication itself isn’t working anymore for you, keep reading, here are the things that you can do.
First, you identify the type of pain . . .
There are different kinds of headaches and to treat them correctly, knowing the type of pain is essential.
- Migraine headaches. Migraine is characterized by pulsing sensation and throbbing pain that may last for hours or days. It also comes along with vomiting and sometimes, extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Whenever you take a pain reliever, the condition goes away but it comes back after the drug subsides.
- Tension/Musculoskeletal headaches. People who experienced tension headache often describe it as a tight band around the head with mild to moderate pain. This is not as severe as migraine but this is the most common type of headache. Tension headache are quite common and often confused with migraines.
- Rebound headaches. This type of headache is caused by over usage of headache medication such as ibuprofen, aspirin and other drugs that contain caffeine. Rebound headache also happens when these drugs are not taken as directed.
- Cluster headaches. Cluster headaches have cyclical patterns that may last from weeks to months. It is characterized with extreme pain on one side of the head and around the eye areas. Luckily, this condition is rare. It only happens at certain times and is not life-threatening.
Clinical studies cited that these types of headaches can be caused by various factors including allergies, stress, hormonal changes, dehydration and bad habits. It can also be triggered by alcohol consumption.
The common denominator of all these different types of headaches is the approaches that you can use for treating them.
Now is the time to kick start some lifestyle fixes
Lack of healthy sleep may cause headaches. Aim for quality sleep of at least 7-8 hours. If this is something that you are struggling with, try cutting off caffeine consumption, use dim light, unwind before bed time and limit computer usage.
As much as possible, stay away from strong scents such us perfumes, air fresheners or lotions as they may also cause headache. Have a routine to reduce tension. You could do yoga or afternoon walks.
Headache may also happen when you have a mis-arranged workspace. Headache at work is often caused by eyestrain and poor posture. To reduce eye strain, adjust the brightness of your computer’s screen, use computer eye glasses, increase text size and take a 15-minute break away from the screen every other hour. It’s easy to get caught up in work, so use this timer to time yourself. It is essential to make sure that everything is set up at the right distance and height accordingly. Mayo Clinic’s suggestion is to;
Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length — generally 18 to 28 inches (46 to 71 centimeters) — away. The top of the screen should be slightly below eye level. If glare from fluorescent lighting or sunlight is a problem, turn off some or all of the overhead lights or close the window shades. Place your monitor so that the brightest light source is to the side. (source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169)
Get regular exercise and eat the right foods
Old advice but still relevant today! Eat organic plant foods, ditch those canned goods and balance your diet. As for migraine cases, it is essential to stay away from foods that trigger the pain. These include cured meat, dairy products, pickles, and foods that have MSG, nitrates and additives. Avoid foods that contain allergens like soy, corn, peanuts and shellfish. Opt for foods that have Omega 3 fatty acids that work as anti-inflammatory components.
Consider a new exercise program or meditation to reduce stress.
There are some effective home remedies too
Cold compress is a quick fix for headaches. The coldness works as a good anti-inflammatory solution. Cold compress help improve blood circulation, easing out the pain overtime. Hold an ice pack or cold cloth against the forehead for a few minutes. Repeat until you feel better.
Supplements like vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and CoQ10 are proven to alleviate head pain. At home relaxation techniques such as massage and yoga are helpful too.
Aromatherapy also promotes relaxation. Lavender is a good go-to scent to aid relaxation. Huffington Post stated that lavender scent promotes relaxation almost by instant. When experiencing headache, try to minimize your sensory input by laying down in the dark. This helps keep you calm and ease out the throbbing pain.
Stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration-triggered headache can be cured by drinks that have electrolytes.
Learn your own triggers
There might be food and activities that causes your headache. By learning what they are, you can avoid future instances.
Keep a journal about your headache occurrences. If the case has a “routine”, say, this pain happens whenever you eat certain food, then the solution is obviously to avoid that food. If your headache happens whenever you spend too much time with your computer, what you could do is cut time spent in front of the screen.
A smart approach is to consult a physiotherapist
A physical therapist can help you identify the type of headache you are experiencing and determine the right therapy to your specific condition. Your case will be thoroughly evaluated base on the behavior and symptoms of your pain.
Often headaches are triggered by painful muscles in your back, shoulders, and neck. Your physiotherapist will perform various tests to see the underlying musculoskeletal reasons for your headaches and will recommend the right therapy for relief.
Contact us at MVMT Physio & Chiro today to book a no obligation appointment. For the past two decades, our qualified clinicians have treated patients with different types of headaches from tension headaches and even chronic migraines.