Headache – Don’t rack your brain anymore
Headaches, also called cephalgia in medical terminology, are one of the most common pain complaints and can affect both children and adults. Often, headaches are harmless and can be eliminated with home remedies or simple pain relievers. However, severe chronic headaches, such as migraines, are treated with specialized therapies. Headaches can also be a symptom of a more serious disease. In that case, special methods must also be used. You can learn more about headaches in this blog.
Causes of headaches
The exact origin of headaches is not clearly understood despite intensive research.Headaches are mainly divided into primary and secondary headaches. While primary headaches have no identifiable cause, secondary ones are always due to a disease or external influences.
Examples of causes of primary headaches:
- Weather change
- Lack of fluids
- poorly ventilated rooms
- screen work
- lack of sleep and irregular sleep
- In women: Hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle
Examples of causes of secondary headaches:
- Head and cervical spine injuries, e.g., traumatic brain injury
- Inflammations: Meningitis, inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the temporal arteries, sinusitis, inflammation of the roots of the teeth
- Viral infections such as influenza
- Reduced oxygen uptake capacity of the blood, e.g. chronic bronchitis
- High blood pressure
- Herniated disc in the cervical spine
- Tension of the neck muscles
- Heat stroke
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain tumor
- Drug withdrawal
- Hypoglycemia due to diabetes
- Certain medications such as nitrates, estrogens for contraception; frequent use of pain medications
The most common headaches
The three most common types of headaches include tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. These differ in several aspects and are briefly explained in the following paragraphs.
Tension headaches occur in almost everyone at some point. These pains
- feel pressing, dull or pulling, but not pulsating, and are felt on both sides of the head.
- are mild – moderate in intensity.
- can last for more than half an hour to a few days.
- do not cause nausea.
- do not increase with physical activity.
- do not usually prevent you from continuing to do everyday activities.
Tension headaches are more common than migraine headaches, but they affect many adults and children. Migraines can also be triggered by menstruation, which is why women have migraines more often than men. Due to the more severe pain of migraine headaches, people who suffer from them are more limited.
Headaches are classified as migraines when pain attacks with the typical symptoms have occurred more than five times. Typical symptoms of a migraine are
- moderate to severe pain felt as pulsating, pounding or throbbing, usually mainly in the front of the head.
- pain that is hemifacial, although the side may change, but many have attacks on both sides.
- pain attacks lasting at least four hours and up to three days (at least tw
o hours in children).
- sensitivity to light, sound and/or smell.
- often also nausea, sometimes with vomiting.
- discomfort that is aggravated by physical activity.
A migraine can also be accompanied in some sufferers by visual disturbances, flashes of light, sensory disturbances of the skin (for example tingling) or dizziness. This condition is called an aura. An aura can occur before or during a migraine attack. An aura starts within minutes and usually subsides within an hour.
Those who have a migraine attack often need to retreat to a quiet, darkened room and lie down because light, noise, and movement increase the discomfort.
Cluster headaches occur episodically, in clusters, and last for several weeks. Attacks usually occur daily. Only one side of the head hurts in the area of the temple and around the eye. As a rule, the same side is always affected during further episodes. Cluster headaches
- are very severe and are among the most severe primary headaches.
- are felt as burning, stabbing or piercing.
- last from 15 minutes to three hours.
- may be clustered over days or weeks and occur at the same times, usually in the early morning hours.
- are accompanied by symptoms such as nasal congestion, eye redness, sweating on the forehead, or a watery eye.
Cluster headaches are sometimes made somewhat more bearable by exercise. Therefore, unlike migraines, sufferers tend to be restless during an attack. Cluster headache is much less common than tension headache and migraine. It is the only primary headache that affects men more often than women.
Methods for self-treatment
If you don’t want to resort to medication, you can try these nine self-treatment methods.
- Push the headache away
- Tussle the hair
- Breathe deeply into the stomach
- Drink coffee with lemon juice
- Cool the back of your neck
- Inhale steam
- Make forearm bath
- Apply peppermint oil
- Drink plenty of water
If home remedies for headache do not work within 30 minutes, headache can usually be eliminated by medication (look for recommendation on the respective package).