Headaches are a common problem, and most people suffer from headaches at some stage in their lives. Headaches occur in persons of all ages and can vary from a dull ache to a severe migraine. Headaches can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, tiredness, sinus problems or chemical imbalances and there are a number of ways that headaches can be relieved, from over-the-counter medicines to easy home remedies. Treatments will vary according to the severity of the problem. So here are a few tips about headaches and how to handle them.
What causes headaches?
A headache, also known as cephalalgia, is a pain that occurs anywhere in the region of the head or neck. Some causes of headaches:
- Lack of sleep
- Certain foods
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals
Types of Headaches
1. Tension Headaches- Tension headaches are one of the most common types of headaches, from which most people suffer at some time in their lives. Sufferers will feel a constant ache or tight pressure around the head, especially at the temples or back of the head and neck.
- Causes- Tension headaches are usually brought on by stress. They occur when the body becomes stressed, the brain releases certain chemicals and this causes tension in the neck and head and ultimately, pain.
- Relief- The best form of relief for a tension headache is an over-the-counter treatment, such as paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
Expert tip! Rub some lavender oil or peppermint oil into your temples in slow, gentle circular motions and breathe deeply. The aromatic oil has calming medicinal properties that will help relieve your headache.
2. Sinus Headaches- Sinus headaches are caused by an infection of the sinuses, causing them to become blocked and painful. These types of headaches usually occur with a fever and an overall feeling of ill health.
- Causes- Sinus problems usually develop from a common cold or flu virus. The sinuses become blocked due to the cold and then become infected. Blocked sinuses can also occur from hay fever or allergies to a variety of things from animal hair and pollen to certain types of food.
- Relief- Sinus infections and sinus headaches are best treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor or medical health professional. Over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants can also give relief to blocked sinuses.
Expert tip! For quick sinus relief, place your tongue at the top of your mouth and place your thumb in between your eyebrows. Press your thumb firmly against your forehead for about twenty seconds – this will allow your sinus passage to begin draining and clear up any congestion problems instantly.
3. Cluster Headaches- Cluster headaches are the type that recurs in regular cycles and tend to affect women more than men. Cluster headaches begin suddenly with cruciating pain on one side of the head, very often accompanied by nasal congestion and a watery eye on the same side of the face.
- Causes- The causes of cluster headaches are as yet unknown, it through they might stem from a genetic imbalance in the brain.
- Relief- Cluster headaches can be very painful and sufferers tend to be restless and want to move around, so the best form of relief for these types of headaches is to take an over-the-counter treatment, such as paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen and drink plenty of water. A cool compress might also give some relief.
Expert tip! Steep some peppermint and/or basil leaves in boiling water and sip slowly when cooled. Peppermint tea is great for relieving headaches.
4. Migraines- Migraines are a severe form of headache and can be debilitating to the sufferer. Migraines are usually foreshadowed by an aura, such as visual distortions, ‘stars’ or hand numbness, followed by intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound and can last from anywhere between four and 72 hours, during which time the sufferer is unable to continue any routine.
- Causes- Although the cause of migraines is not yet understood, it is believed that genetics and environmental factors could play a role in the onset, as well as chemical imbalances in the brain. Other cause could include:
- Hormonal changes in women
- Foods and food additives
- Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages
- Relief- Due to the severity of migraines, the best relief is migraine headache medication as prescribed by your doctor. Find a dark place to rest and place a cool compress over your eyes. Drink plenty of water.
Expert tip! Get quick relief from a tension headache by lying down in a dark room and doing some deep, yoga breathing. Cover your eyes with a cold cloth – this will also help relieve your headache.