Headaches are very common in today’s world, affecting close to 46% of adults worldwide. Headaches can be difficult to cope with and even harder to find a solution for that really works. Not only are patients frustrated but doctors are as well. Medication can help relieve the pain while headaches are occurring, but they will continue to happen unless the root cause is addressed. What is the underlying reason for some headaches? We will discuss this later on in this article along with a way to care for headaches without the use of medication. First, however, let’s take a deeper look at headaches and their different types.
Interesting Facts About Headaches
- The economic cost of headaches is conservatively put at $31 billion every year in the United States.
- As many as 4% of adults around the world have a headache or a migraine for more than 15 days during a month’s time.
- In those having cluster headaches, 55% experience suicidal thoughts.
- A huge 5.2 million visits to the emergency room are blamed on headaches.
- Tension headaches are the 2nd most common illness worldwide.
- It can take up to 5 years, on average, for people with cluster headaches to get a proper diagnosis.
- Migraines are the 7th highest cause of disability worldwide and are the most disabling neurological condition.
- Headaches are usually harmless.
- In ancient times, Greeks and Romans used peppermint tea to care for headaches. They also drank infusions of chamomile, rosemary, and lavender. Applying raw potato, cabbage, and onion was also popular to relieve head pain.
- Fasting can cause headaches. This can be due to drops in blood sugar levels, in addition to stress, noise, flashing lights, certain foods, pollution, and smoke.
- Lifestyle choices affect a number of headaches you get. If you don’t smoke or drink excessively, get plenty of sleep, exercise daily, and eat healthily, you are more likely to avoid getting frequent headaches.
- Ice cream headaches really happen. When eating cold foods or drinks, the blood vessels spasm, interrupting blood flow and causing the vessels to swell.
A Deeper Look at Headaches
Headaches can happen in any area of the head – on both sides or just one location. They may radiate across the head from one central spot or feel like a vise is squeezing the head. They have been described as sharp, dull, throbbing, and pounding. They may come about gradually or appear all of a sudden. Headaches can last less than an hour or several days.
The International Headache Society defines headaches using two different categories. They are:
- Primary headaches: These are stand-alone illnesses that are due to problems with or overactivity of the pain-sensitive structures in the head, including muscles, blood vessels, and nerves of the neck and head. Or, they may be caused by chemical activity in the brain. These are most often migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches.
- Secondary headaches: These are brought about by another condition that irritates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Therefore, headache symptoms are due to another cause. This can include:
- Brain freeze (ice cream headache)
- Brain tumor
- Bleeding around or in the brain
- Alcohol-induced hangover
- Blood clots
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Panic attacks
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Rebound or medication overuse headaches
As mentioned previously, most headaches are harmless. However, there can be some reasons for your headaches that are dangerous. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is a good idea to contact your doctor immediately:
- Different than normal – more severe, more persistent, or more regular
- More painful and disruptive
- Worse than normal
- Does not improve with medication
- Accompanied by confusion, fever, stiffness in the neck, or sensory changes
- Tension headaches: These headaches can either be episodic or chronic. Episodic attacks last for a few hours or can go on for a few days. Chronic attacks happen for 15 days out of a month, ongoing for at least 3 months.
- Migraines: Actually a neurological condition, the main symptom is throbbing and pounding head pain typically on one side only. Accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting, light, sound, and odor sensitivity, and dizziness. It can last for a few hours or 2 to 3 days.
- Rebound headaches: These headaches come from the overuse of medication to care for headaches. They often begin early in the day and continue throughout the day. They will respond favorably to pain medication but become much worse when the medication wears off.
- Cluster headaches: Lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours, these headaches come on suddenly and can reoccur up to 8 times a day for weeks or months. They are known for one-sided, severe head pain that is described as burning or sharp and is often located around one eye. This eye usually becomes red and swollen, the eyelid may droop, and the nose may become runny or stuffy.
Relief for Headaches That Works
A link has been established between frequent headaches, including the above types and much more, and a misalignment in the bones of the upper neck. A misalignment located here can put undue pressure on the brainstem, causing it to send improper signals to the brain. Nerves in this area can also become irritated. This is the perfect scenario for headaches to develop.
We use a gentle method to correct this problem and help the bones of the upper neck to realign without the need for popping or cracking the spine in any way. Once this misalignment is corrected, the body can begin to repair the damage done, and many patients see a great improvement in their headache symptoms.