If you are able to relate to any one of the above mentioned feelings, you are also aware of the desperation one feels in finding a solution. You are not alone. Almost two thirds of children will experience headaches by the age of 15. More than 90 percent of adults will experience it at some point in their lives. Headache is the most common type of pain that we all go through at some point in our lives. The most surprising thing is, certain types of pain are genetically passed on through our families. Types or episodes might alter or disappear throughout your life, but the most important thing is to know why it comes and how it goes.
Cephalalgia, the scientific term for headache, is a pain you feel somewhere in the head or neck region. Headache is a non-specific symptom, as it can be experienced on its own for no particular reason. It may also come out as a symptom due to various medical conditions of the head and neck. It may be vascular, spine, muscle, infection or inflammation related.
The brain tissue is scarce on pain receptors and is not sensitive to pain on its own. The pain is mainly caused by disruption of the pain-sensitive parts of the central nervous system. The pain-sensitive structures includes the covering layer of the skull named periosteum, nerves with sensory receptors, muscles, vascular structures, eyes, ears, lining of sinuses, mucous membranes, and subcutaneous tissue.
When the treatment of headaches is part of discussion, the strategies divide up according to the underlying cause, although most of them obviously include painkillers.
The most common type of headache is called the tension headache. This type of headache is mostly due to a stressful condition, including challenging tasks, anxiety and depression. Tension here is referred to the spasm of muscles starting from your shoulders and go up towards the head including the scalp. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. If you experience this type of headache, it often means you either work too much, don’t sleep enough, don’t drink enough water or use alcohol in a routine manner. Other common types of headaches include the publicly popular headache called migraines and sinus headaches.
Although they are uncomfortable situations, not all of them require a physician’s attention, including the severe ones if they are in a routine fashion. Most people can cope with headaches or find their own solutions in treating them. Sometimes, by making small lifestyle changes, or learning a way to relax instead of just heading to the medicine cabinet for a pain killer. On the other hand, sometimes headaches are actually warning signals for serious disorders, so when you feel something that you have never experienced before it is better to consult your doctor. Doctor’s attention for a headache is required if the headache occurs along with a fever, confusion, and/or loss of consciousness. Special attention is also needed if you have pain in the eye or the ear, which may be due to an infection or worse case, cancer.
Understanding the signaling of pain in the head is important. We have individual nerves in our body that carry the information of touch, pain temperature and vibration to you brain.
These signals are carried to the brain by a cranial nerve called trigeminal nerve that starts right at the base of the brain. Trigeminal nerve has three main branches and carries sensory information from the scalp to the neck, lining of the brain to vessels of the skull, and eyes to throat. Basically, it is the main nerve that carries the information.
As mentioned earlier, brain tissue itself doesn’t have pain-sensitive receptors. The signals from headache triggers including stress, foods, odors, or even medicines are carried to the thalamus (relay of the brain) by trigeminal nerve and the thalamus manages awareness of pain and emotional response. It is better to know the physiology before trying to find a solution.
Almost everyone is familiar with painkillers, and most have their preferred one. Caution is required when it comes to over the counter painkillers because eventually the body can build resilience to it. Those who suffer from chronic pain often resort to pain killers but there is an alternative, that is better and safer.
Solutions for tension headaches
The most common type of headache is the tension headache. The muscles around the skull contract resulting in a headache. This squeezing type of headache can be eased with either peppermint oil or ginger tea. You can apply peppermint oil to the hairline and it will create a cooling effect that in turn relaxes the muscles. Peppermint oil can be applied to the tension headaches that are either felt around the head or those that radiate to the neck. On the other hand, ginger is one of the most potent antiinflammatory substances nature created. When you read the effects of painkillers, the companies will state them as ¨pain killer and anti-inflammatory ¨ agents. Therefore, if anti-inflammation is a component of pain killing system, then logically ginger would help. crushing or cutting up small pieces of fresh ginger root and putting it into either boiling water or your cup of tea, can significantly reduce inflammation in the same time an aspirin will.
Solutions for migraine headaches
Women suffer from migraines three times more than men, and this type of pain is genetically transferred in the family to some extent. It is a one-sided throbbing pain that additionally causes sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines may also cause nausea. There are lots of hypothesis behind migraines but the underlying cause changes from person to person. Although some scientific evidence does not support anything beyond a placebo effect, it has been shown by clinical trials that feverfew supplement is effective for treating migraines. The major concern that was brought up by another study is that abrupt discontinuation of feverfew after long-term use may stimulate a type of withdrawal syndrome that may cause rebound headaches. The ingredients parthenolide and tanetin helps to reduce inflammation just like ginger, and removes the pressure of the nerves. The chronic use may prevent migraines entirely, but never forget about the possibility of rebound headaches. An easier alternative way to stop the migraine attacks if from traditional Chinese medicine, the acupressure massage! It may be surprising but just place your index finger in the depression between your first and second toe and press firmly for about five minutes. Try if it works out, its just simple as that if your migraine is not a chronic one. For chronic migraines FDA has approved the use of Botox injections, which help a lot to prevent migraine attacks for a period of six months.
Solutions for cluster headaches
This pain causes a concentrated stabbing feeling. It occurs in a cluster of time frame ranging from days to even weeks. A runny nose or fever may be felt concomitantly in this cluster. The cluster headaches are most common during temperature changes. The natural treatment option for cluster headaches is capsaicin cream. Double-blinded research has indicated that intranasal capsaicin may provide treatment for episodic cluster headaches. Capsaicin is originally extracted from chilly peppers; it’s the substance that causes the burning sensation. Medically it is used as analgesics and has local nerve desensitizing effect. The cream is an effective remedy and works to block the pain signals from the sensory nerve. Just apply a small amount to the inside of your nostril on the side of your head where you are actually experiencing pain.