Headaches can seemingly come out of no where or gradually build up. What caused this pain and how can you get rid of it quickly?
Everyone has dealt with one of these suckers at one time or another. For some, it’s actually a long term problem that has to be dealt with on a regular basis. It’s estimated that 1 in 6 people have chronic headaches which makes life a little bit more difficult and even lowers work productivity since it’s hard to focus when it feels like someone is hammering inside of your head.
Contrary to what most people might think, it’s not actually your brain that hurts. You don’t have nerves or pain sensors in your brain. Instead your feeling the pain picked up elsewhere such as from nerves and muscles around the head or neck.
Primary and Secondary Headaches
There are actually two types of broad categories that doctors classify headaches into. Primary headaches which are non relevant to a preexisting or underlying health condition and secondary headaches which are affiliated with various medical conditions such as head injuries, fevers, infections, dental conditions, tumors and pressure in the skull or sinuses.
There are three main causes for primary headaches:
- Migraine – Migraine headaches can be brought on by lower blood flow to various spots of the cerebral cortex. If you get one of these, the pulsating pain can last anywhere between 2 to 72 hours! It is believed that migraines are due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors. Around 66% of cases seem to run in the family. Symptoms of migraines include nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, vomiting and an intense throbbing pain usually found on only one side of the head. They will also tend to become aggravated with physical activity.
- Tension – Tension headaches are caused by muscle strain in the head and neck or even emotional stress. Tension headaches are usually steady aching pains on both sides of the head compared to migraines which almost always on one side. Sometimes tension headaches can develop into a throbbing pain which makes researchers think that migraines are closely connected. Poor vision or eye strain can trigger frequent tension headaches.
- Cluster – Cluster headaches are headaches that occur repeatedly over an extended period of time such as weeks or even months. Cluster headache pain usually occurs on one side of the head like migraines but is more focused and centered around the eye. The causes of cluster headaches are unknown but may be related to changes in blood flow because substances that affect blood flow, such as alcohol, can trigger cluster headaches.
Too much blood flow can also cause primary headaches. For example, if you’ve read How Does Caffeine Work, you know that caffeine reduces blood flow in the brain. Some pain relievers contain caffeine to take advantage of this effect. If you’ve been taking caffeine every day and you suddenly stop, you very well might be getting a visit from an incredible headache because of the increased blood flow in your brain and sudden change in your routine.
Secondary headaches result from some other problem with your body
If you’re sick with the flu or have a particular health condition, it can bring on headaches which would then be classified as secondary. Once you eliminate the condition, you eliminate the secondary headaches.
Most headache pain can be treated with over the counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If you experience chronic or frequent headache pain, see your physician as it may be caused by a underlying health problem.
How to get rid of a headache
1. The most well known cure- take some pain killers. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and aspirin are some pain relievers that will give you a quick fix to an aching head. Usually it takes about 30 minutes for the pills to kick in, but it’ll save you the pain in the long run. Just make sure you don’t give aspirin to anyone under the age of 19, especially children. Also aspirin sometimes produces a deadly syndrome called Reye syndrome, so if you are worried about it try an alternative.
2. Make sure you drink your water! A headache can come on from dehydration. Dehydration can occur from simply being out in the sun too long or even vomiting. Also beverages like coffees, alcohols, and sodas-even though they are in liquid form-can dehydrate you as well. So just making sure you sip on a glass of water several times throughout the day to avoid the dehydration headache. If the ache has already started, chug a tall glass and in no time you will start to feel better.
3. Lay down and tune out. What you may have heard for migranes helps headaches as well. Closing the blinds and getting yourself in a dark quiet environment to rest (try at least 30 minutes) can mellow out your head ache.
4. Soak a wash cloth with cold water and place it over your forehead. This might help the pain by constricting blood vessels, especially if you ache is coming from your sinus or temple area. As soon as the cloth starts to feel warm just wet it again. You can also try putting the wet cloth in a plastic bag and freeze it for a long lasting compress.
5. Everybody loves a massage, and in this case it could possibly relieve your headache. Start by gently massaging in circular motions near your temple and work outwards. It helps by relieving tension and improving circulation to hopefully relieve the pain. Another easy way to get this done and taking a little extra time massaging your scalp while shampooing in the shower. If you have someone else that can massage for you bribe them into doing it, it always feels better and more relaxing when someone else takes over.
Having the touch of someone else can definitely relieve a lot of tension. By getting someone to massage the back of your neck, bridge of nose and acupressure point on each hand where the thumb and index finger bones meet these can all relieve headaches depending where they are originating from. Another relief for sinus headaches can be done by putting two racket balls in a sock and lay on them at the back of your skull. It might hurt a bit at first but this pain should go away and start relieving the headache.
6. Have some fun in the bedroom! Sex releases oxytocin which then boosts endorphins in your body. Endorphins are a natural pain killer that’ll help out with that aching head of yours.
7. Do you have an activity or hobby that puts you in your comfort zone? Try doing some relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or whatever you like best. It might distract you long enough for the pain to go away.
I’ve always found the biggest cause of headaches for me was from dehydration to the brain so unless you’re getting them from an underlying medical condition, it’s a great idea to try and prevent a headache by drinking regular amounts of water!
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