Horrible, hurting headaches
Recurrent headaches can be worrisome
HEADY FEELING A head massage helps relieve a headache
Sumangala is irritable and tense. She has a deadline to meet and she is suffering from a pounding headache. She is concerned that she has been getting recurrent headaches over the past few weeks. She knows she should see her doctor but keeps pushing it off. Should she be worried?
Most women will suffer from headaches on and off. Some headaches are worrisome and can be treated. To know which headache warrants further investigation, it is important to know the types of headaches.
Types of headaches
Tension : The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches usually create a steady squeezing or pressing pain on both sides of the head. It feels as if a band is being tightened around your head. Tension headaches can occur occasionally or they can be chronic. They can last from 30 minutes to several days. They often occur upon waking.
Migraine : Migraine headaches affect more women than men. Migraine is a severe throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. It may occur with other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light and noise. Migraine attacks occur occasionally once or twice a week, or sometimes every few years. They do not typically happen every day.
Cluster : Cluster headaches affect only a small percentage of people. Cluster headaches are described as a very severe, non-throbbing pain felt behind one eye. They usually occur periodically over several weeks or months. The pain can last up to 3 hours. This is the only type of headache that is more common in men than women.
What triggers it?
Women, who suffer from headaches, may know that some specific stimulus sets off the headache some kinds of food, lack of sleep, too much sleep, anxiety, stress, anger and excitement. Some medications given for high blood pressure or angina, bright lights, flickering images on the TV or computer screen and petrol fumes are also known to set off a headache. Many women have headaches associated with the change of hormonal levels. Headaches can also be caused by sinus or dental problems. A sinus headache can arise from an allergy or a cold.
Coping with headaches
People suffering from recurrent headaches, might find it useful to maintain a "headache diary" for 1 or 2 months. Trigger events such as stress, meals, noise, or the menstrual cycle should be noted down. Making a few lifestyle changes may help avoid the headaches. Regular exercising releases endorphins, which is the body's natural painkilling agent. Regular exercise also relieves stress and improves sleep. Relaxation techniques that help reduce stress, such as massage and meditation can help.
Most headaches do not require medical attention. Some headaches, however, can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as high blood pressure. It is rare for a headache to be caused by a brain tumour. If the pain is more severe than usual or it is associated with a stiff neck along with high fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness or convulsions, the headache warrants immediate attention.
Most tension headaches can be relieved with simple pain relievers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, avoid repeated use of painkillers. When pain relievers are overused, they no longer ease the pain. Instead they can cause rebound headaches, which leads sufferers to take more medication.
Migraine headaches can sometimes be relieved with ice packs or by putting pressure on the temple on the painful side of the head. For mild migraine attacks, paracetamol may give some relief. If the usual over-the-counter medications do not work, stronger medications may need to be prescribed by your physician. If you have two or three migraine attacks per month, your doctor may suggest medications that not only relieve the pain but may actually help prevent the attacks.
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