A headache is one of the most common problems in human life. It is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. It can be mild or severe. It can be so bad sometimes that it may not even allow you to focus on your work or daily activities.
Headaches can sometimes be so severe that can be disabling. But the best thing is that it is a treatable disease with medications or changes in lifestyle. There are two types of causes of headache, primary and secondary.
Primary causes are those causes that are not because of any medical condition. Rather they are because of the normal underlying process in the brain. Pain with primary causes are migraine, cluster, and tension headaches.
Secondary causes are those that are because of some medical condition. It can be due to a brain tumor, overuse of any medicines, or a side effect of a treatment.
There are 17 different types of headaches depend upon the severity and symptoms. Some common types include:
- Primary episodic tension headaches
- Primary chronic tension headaches
- Primary muscle contraction headaches
- Primary migraine aura headaches
- Primary migraine without aura headaches
- Primary cluster headaches
- Primary paroxysmal hemicrania
- Primary headache due to cough
- Primary stabbing headache
- Primary headache due to sexual intercourse
- Primary thunderclap headache
- Hypnic headache or headaches that makes you awake from sleep
- Hemicrania continua or single-sided headaches
- New daily persistent headache (NDPH)
- Pain due to exertion
- Trigeminal neuralgia and other cranial nerve inflammation
- Secondary headaches caused by trauma, disorders. infection, bone-related problems, withdrawal abuse.
It is a disease that can be easily prevented without any help from medications. A slight change in lifestyle and plenty of sleep can help prevent pain. Some important steps to reduce the chances of pain include:
- Avoiding food that triggers: Food like aged cheeses, wine, cashews, onions, chocolate, processed meats, dark beers, food additives, dairy, and wheat are considered to be triggering food. But it can vary from person to person. If any food that triggers pain should be avoided.
- Excess caffeine intake: Drinking tea or coffee is an addiction. Some people are so addicted that they end up having six or more cups of coffee a day, which leads to chronic pain due to withdrawal episodes. Limit intake of caffeine can help or quit it is much better.
- Enough sleep: Headaches can be triggered by not getting good sleep. To avoid such a problem, try to get enough and sound sleep so that you can wake up energetic and refresh.
- Mind-body practices for pain prevention: People who suffer from tension, they can cure this by using techniques like progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.
- Manual therapies: These therapies include massage and chiropractic manipulations. It may help prevent pain in some people. But take a piece of advice from your doctor before using these therapies.
- Regular exercise: Try to include exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes. It helps to relieve stress and tension that triggers pain
Treatment for it depends on the condition and severity of the patient. In case if the pain is because of an underlying condition, then it will go away as time will pass. Most of the pains are not that serious that need any medication or they can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
In case if medications are not working, there are various remedies that can help in treating pain:
- Biofeedback: It is a relaxation technique that helps in managing pain.
- Stress management: There are classes that teach you to cope with stress and to relieve tension.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It is a type of talk therapy that makes you recognize situations that make you feel stressed and anxious.
- Acupuncture: It is a therapy that reduces stress and tension by applying fine needles to specific areas of your body.
- Mild to moderate exercise: Some specific exercises can help increase the production of certain brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed.
- Cold or hot therapy: It is a therapy that involves applying a heating pad or ice pack to your head for 5 to 10 minutes multiple times a day.
- Taking a shower: A hot bath or a shower can help relax tense muscles.
When pain occurs three or more times per month, then it is an alarming situation and needs doctor’s consultation. Sumatriptan is a drug that is commonly used and prescribed for the control of migraines.
There are other medications also that can be used to treat or prevent chronic migraine or cluster headaches, they are:
- beta blockers (propranolol, atenolol)
- verapamil (calcium channel blocker)
- methysergide maleate (helps to reduce blood vessel constriction)
- amitriptyline (antidepressant)
- valproic acid (anti-seizure medication)
There are some natural remedies to cure the pain but always ask your doctor to start anything new. Every medicine have their own reactions and side effects, so better to consult a doctor. He/she is the only person to guide you in a better way.
Some natural remedies to reduce pain are:
- Butterbur. It is a shrub and the extracts from this shrub are quite effective in reducing pain and migraine. But it also has some allergic reactions especially in those who are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums.
- Coenzyme Q10. It is an enzyme and taking 100 milligrams (mg) of it three times a day may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches.
- Feverfew. It is an herb that potentially decreases the chances of migraines.
- Magnesium. Some patients with severe migraines receive magnesium infusions as a means to reduce their pain
- Vitamin B-12. It is also known as riboflavin. It has pain-reducing properties. Taking 200 mg twice daily can help in reducing pain.