Headache

All posts tagged Headache

Relieve Common Aches and Pain

Published May 13, 2015 by teacher dahl

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Rest in a Dark, Quiet Room

Stress is one of the main causes of headaches. Relieving tense muscles may help calm tension headaches, the most common type of headache. People who have tension headaches may also feel overly sensitive to either light or sound. Rest or sit in a dimly lit room. Close your eyes and try to relax your back, neck, and shoulders.

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Headache? Try Caffeine.

Caffeine may help relieve headache symptoms by helping pain relief drugs work better and faster. Caffeine added to pain relievers can make them more effective in treating headaches. That’s why caffeine is often an ingredient in medications.

Relax to Ease Pain

Deep breathing exercises and mental imagery may reduce stress and ease headache pain. This quick technique combines both: Take several deep breaths. Exhale slowly, relaxing areas that feel tight and cramped, while picturing a peaceful scene. Drop your chin toward your chest, then gently and slowly rotate your head in a half circle from one side to the other. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly.

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Treat Pain With Heat or Cold

Cold and heat may relieve pain and muscle tension that can accompany headaches. A hot shower or moist heat applied to the back of the neck may ease symptoms of infrequent tension headaches. Try a hot water bottle, a warm towel, or a warm compress. If you prefer cold, try wrapping an ice pack in a towel. Then put it where you hurt — on your forehead, temples, or neck.

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Massage Away Tension Headaches

Massage can undo clenched muscles and help you relax, so it can be especially good for stress or tension headaches. Have someone else gently massage your head, neck, and shoulder muscles. Or do it yourself with a targeted mini-massage. Gently rub the painful spot on your head with your fingertips for several seconds. Rest and repeat as needed.

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Exercise to Ease Tension

Neck exercises may ease tension headache pain caused by holding your head in one position for too long. Here’s an exercise that may help. Place your palm on your forehead. Using your neck muscles, press forehead lightly forward against palm. Keep your head upright, your hand and arm still for resistance.

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Try an Acupressure Technique

Acupressure may help ease headache pain. Place your thumbs near the base of your skull. Find the depressions on both sides of where your head meets your neck. They are just outside of the thick muscle that runs down the middle (about 2 inches from the center). Press in and slightly upward with your thumbs until you feel slight pain. While pressing move your thumbs in small circles for 1-2 minutes.

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Over-the-Counter Headache Medication

Over-the-counter drugs acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium can ease headache pain. Drugs that combine acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine may work better for some people than when each is taken alone. But using any headache medicine for more than three days a week may cause medication overuse headaches. See your doctor if you need medication this often.

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Acupuncture for Headaches

In this form of Chinese medicine, a practitioner places fine needles at certain points in your body. Stimulating these points may release your body’s natural painkillers — endorphins — to ease neck, shoulder, and head pain. Some studies have found that when done as preventive therapy over several months, acupuncture may reduce the number of tension headaches people get. Acupuncture can be done on its own or with other treatments.

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When to Call a Doctor for Headaches

See your doctor if your headaches are frequent or last more than a few days. Get immediate medical help if your headache is sudden and severe, occurs after a head injury, or is the worst you have ever had. It’s also important to get urgent care if your headache is accompanied by fever, stiff neck, seizures, numbness, double vision, dizziness, severe nausea, shortness of breath, or confusion.

source: Web MD

Surprising Headache Triggers

Published September 24, 2013 by teacher dahl

Although much about the cause of migraines isn’t understood, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role.

Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway.

Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved. Researchers continue to study the role of serotonin in migraines.

Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks. This may cause your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering (meninges). The result is headache pain.

Here are some surprising Headache triggers:

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Headache Trigger: Your Boss
Yes, your boss really can give you a headache. Anything that boosts your stress level can make you more vulnerable to tension headaches or migraines. The exact mechanism for these headaches is unclear and may involve different factors. A heightened sensitivity of nerve pathways in the brain that relay pain may play a role. Changes within the brain itself may also be involved in migraine headaches.

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Headache Trigger: Weather
When the temperature changes, so does the likelihood of developing a migraine. Whether it’s a heat wave or a cold snap, the change can trigger a headache. Sunny, hot days are another common culprit. Rain or changes in barometric pressure also may lead to headaches. While you can’t change the weather, you can wear sunglasses on a bright day, minimize dehydration, and avoid midday sun.

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Headache Trigger: Strong Scents
Strong smells — even nice ones — trigger migraines in many people. Why this happens is unclear, but the odors may stimulate the nervous system. The most common culprits are paint, perfume, and certain types of flowers.

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Headache Trigger: Hair Accessories
How you wear your hair can take a toll on your head. A tight ponytail may strain the connective tissue in the scalp, leading to a hairdo headache. Headbands, braids, and tight-fitting hats can create the same effect. If this is the cause of your headache, letting your hair down usually brings fast relief.

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Headache Trigger: Exercise
Strenuous exercise, including sex, can sometimes lead to headaches. Examples include jogger’s headache and sex headache. These types of headaches are most common in people who are susceptible to migraines.

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Headache Trigger: Poor Posture

You don’t have to work up a sweat to build pressure in the head and neck muscles. Slouching at your desk will do the job, too. Common forms of poor posture include hunching your shoulders, using a chair with no lower-back support, staring at a monitor that is too low or too high, and cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder. If you have frequent tension headaches, take a good look at your workspace.

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Headache Trigger: Cheese
A migraine trigger for some people is aged cheese, including blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine. The longer a food ages, the more tyramine it contains.

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Headache Trigger: Red Wine
Tyramine is also found in red wine and other alcoholic drinks. Other ingredients in wine may contribute to headaches as well. Because alcohol increases blood flow to the brain, the effects may be even more intense. If red wine is a trigger for you, but you’d like to enjoy a glass on special occasions, ask your doctor about taking a preventive dose of medication.

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Headache Trigger: Cold Cuts
Processed meats, such as cold cuts, have two strikes against them. They often contain tyramine, as well as food additives such as nitrites, which may trigger headaches in some people. Headaches caused by food additives are usually felt on both sides of the head (in contrast to a classic migraine, which strikes one side at a time).

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Headache Trigger: Skipping Meals
Hunger headaches aren’t always obvious. If you skip a meal, your head could start to ache before you realize you’re hungry. The trouble is a dip in blood sugar. But don’t try to cure a hunger headache with a candy bar. Sweets cause blood sugar to spike and then drop even lower.

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Headache Trigger: Smoking
Smoking is known to trigger headaches — and not just in the person holding the cigarette. Secondhand smoke contains nicotine, which causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow. Giving up cigarettes or reducing exposure to secondhand smoke appears especially helpful to patients with cluster headaches. These are extremely painful one-sided headaches that can also cause eye and nose symptoms.

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Headache Trigger: Caffeine
For the headache-prone, caffeine fits firmly into the category of “can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” In moderation, caffeine is often beneficial — in fact, it’s found in many headache medications. But chain-chugging coffee can be a cause of headaches. And, if you’re hooked on caffeine, cutting back abruptly may only make things worse. Caffeine withdrawal is another headache trigger.

SOLUTIONS:

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Headache Solution: Manage Stress
Many people are able to manage migraines or tension headaches through stress-busting strategies. Although you can’t control the stressful events that come your way, you can alter your response to those events. You may need to experiment with techniques such as meditation and massage to find what works for you.

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Headache Solution: Stretch Your Legs
Moderate exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Walking is a great choice because it delivers an extra defense against tension headaches. When you walk, the swinging motion of your arms tends to relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Breaking up those knots may help diminish the root of some headaches.

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Headache Solution: Eat Regular Meals
Eating balanced meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel. That means no more hunger headaches. Aim for meals and snacks that pair a protein with a complex carbohydrate, such as peanut butter on whole-grain bread or chicken breast with brown rice. And be sure to drink enough fluids — dehydration is another common headache trigger.

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Headache Solution: Physical Therapy

Physical therapy combines exercise and education to reduce pain and improve range of motion. In people with tension headaches, physical therapy may help the neck muscles and establish new habits that lead to better posture.

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Headache Solution: Medication
Over-the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are effective against many types of headaches. But avoid taking these drugs continuously, as this can result in medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches — headache pain that returns as soon as the pills have worn off. For frequent or severe headaches, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that help prevent them.

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When to See a Doctor

Any new headache that is unusually severe or lasts more than a couple of days should be checked by a doctor. It’s also important to let your health care provider know if the pattern of your headaches changes — for example, if there are new triggers. If you have a headache accompanied by vision changes, movement problems, confusion, seizure, fever, or stiff neck, seek emergency medical care.

source: Web MD/Mayo clinic

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