What is a headache?

Headache is a form of throbbing, uncomfortable, and distracting pain in the head.

Headaches can be defined as pain in any region of the head however, the cause, duration, and intensity of this pain  varies according to the type of headache.

Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints almost everyone experiences them at some point in life.

A headache can be a sign of stress,  can be migraine or a result of high blood pressure, anxiety, or depression.

Causes of Headache –

Headache may occur when any of the pain sensitive structures of the brain suffer compression, spasm, tension, inflammation, or irritation.

Common headache triggers include:

  1. Stress
  2. Hormonal fluctuations before, during, or after menstruation
  3. Muscle tension in the back and neck
  4. Exhaustion
  5. Hunger and dehydration
  6. Medications (Many drugs designed to relieve pain can actually cause headache when the drug is stopped after a period of prolonged use.)
  7. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar withdrawal
  8. Eye related problems such as glaucoma, uncorrected vision problems.
  9.  Brain related issues – such as clots, stroke, and concussion
  10. Certain foods, such as processed meats that contain nitrates
  11. Skipped or delayed meals
  12. Lack of proper sleep.

Tips to prevent headaches –

  1. Take care of your sleep. A sound sleep of 6-8 hours is a must.
  2. Do not delay or skip meals. Hunger or low blood sugar is a very common trigger for headaches.
  3. Make sure to get your eyes checked at least once in a year. People with recent onset headache accompanied with visual disturbances must get an eye check up right away.
  4. Try to notice the triggering factors for headache and avoid them.
  5. Avoid stressors, where possible, and develop healthy coping strategies for unavoidable stress.

Treatment –

The most common ways of treating headaches are rest and pain relief medication.

Generic pain relief medication is available over the counter (OTC) which can be taken .

However, if the pain is frequent and recurrent, It is important to discuss it with your doctor and follow his/her advice because overusing pain relief medication can lead to rebound headaches.

Sometimes, a headache is a result of certain vitamin deficiencies especially magnesium and certain B vitamins. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements after consulting with doctor may be of help.

Applying a heat pack or ice pack to your head or neck may help however, it is important to  avoid extreme temperatures.

Any headache that starts suddenly or after injury or is not resolving in 48 hours it is important to get an immediate evaluation done

-Dr.Afroze Fatima.

References –

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptom-checker/headaches-adult/related-factors/itt-20009075

https://www.mayo.edu/research/departments-divisions/department-neurology/programs/headaches

https://www.excedrin.com/headaches/treatment/toughing-out-your-headaches/

https://www.healthline.com/health/headache/types-of-headaches

https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/types-of-headaches/

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/mild_headache/article_em.htm#what_causes_headache

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/73936.php

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800

 

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