Headaches: Help, Support and Overcome
The National Headache Foundation estimates that nearly 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches and a vast majority suffer from migraines. The startling fact is that 70 percent of headache sufferers are women. The term headache is actually used to describe pain in the scalp, face and/or neck. Some of these headaches are recurrent in nature. There are two broad types of headaches: Primary and Secondary. Primary headache, in turn, is divided into three categories, which are tension, cluster and migraine. Tension headache is the most common form of headache and usually affects middle aged people. These headaches are associated with stresses, anxiety and depression.
The bad news is that headaches are hereditary. If a child is suffering from migraine then chances are that one of the parents also suffers from the same condition. It is a well known fact that headaches set in from a very early age, especially during adolescence. The causes of headaches in children can be one or a combination of factors. Most of these headaches in children are known to be benign but it can be a serious matter if the headache is accompanied with symptoms like speech problems, muscle weakness and loss of vision. A CT scan or an MRI may reveal structural disorders of the Central Nervous System.
Help and Support for Headaches
There are various causes for a headache. But the main causes behind a tension headache would be anxiety and arthritis in neck. If you are taking drugs that dilate or constrict blood vessels, then that may trigger a headache too. Recent research has shown that changes in barometric pressure and endorphin levels in the brain can cause severe headaches.
The usual symptoms of a headache are dull pain on the sides of the scalp. This pain increases with the passage of time. There can be muscular tenderness in the neck or at the base of the skull. The diagnosis of a headache is usually done through a series of tests which can include blood tests, eye examination, family history and neurological examinations. A CT scan or an MRI can be done to rule out any serious problem.
There are many ways in which you can prevent the onset of a headache. First and foremost, you must reduce stress. A stressful life can trigger headaches very frequently. Find some time to relax and empty your mind of all tedious work. Diet, too, plays an important role and there are many foods that might trigger a headache. You must try to avoid, or at least limit, the consumption of caffeine, aged meats, aged cheese and snow peas.
You doctor may suggest different types of treatment but the actual treatment path will depend upon the test reports, type and frequency of the headaches. The most common medications for treating headaches are NSAIDs. These are ibuprofen, naproxen and the popular aspirin. However, overuse of NSAIDs can lead to ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Migraines are usually treated with ergots and triptans.
The main problem with these medications is that they can induce side effects like cardiovascular risk, blood pressure and liver damage. So, it is advisable that you do not exceed the dosage without consulting your doctor. The headaches subside almost immediately but you must complete the course of medication as per the doctor. But if the pain lasts for more than 10 days, then you may need to consult a specialist.