o o h ,   m y  a c h i n g   h e a d

- What type of headache do I have and how can I fix it?


By Bronwen Gora

 

Body and Soul Section, The Sunday Telegraph, March 3, 2002.

Text Box:

Sunday Telegraph. Reproduced by Permission

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Is your whole head throbbing? Or is the pain just behind your eyes? Your head aches for a reason. Bronwen Gora looks at the remedies.

what type of headache do I have?
My eyelids are falling shut, my nose is running and I have pain around my nose, eyes and forehead.
You have either a sinus headache or an allergy headache - you may have infected sinuses or an allergic reaction to chemicals, food, dust, pollen or dust mites.

I can't stand light, my head is throbbing and I'd just like to lie down and pass out.
You're in migraine territory. Hormonal imbalances - perhaps caused by medications, including the pill - could be to blame. Food can also be a culprit, so after you've seen your doctor find a nutritionist.

My whole head is throbbing for no particular reason - and I've just been exercising, too.
Specialists would say you have an exertion headache, which in serious cases could mean a burst blood vessel in the brain. Make sure you keep your blood sugar levels stable by staying sufficiently hydrated and eating enough carbohydrates.

After a day of sitting in front of the computer at work, my forehead feels as if it's been in a vice.
Don't crash on the couch with a stiff drink - although that might help in the short term. You'd be better off making an appointment with an optometrist and having your eyes checked. You may be suffering from eyestrain which can be alleviated by following a program of eye muscle exercises - or getting some glasses.

My head just feels tight. And I'm grumpy.
You most likely have a tension headache, which could be due to not hitting the sack early enough often enough.

and how can I fix it?

the culprit: Migraine
what's happening and why:
You have throbbing pain on one side of the head or behind an eye. You're sensitive to light and noise. You could have vision problems or numbness in your limbs. Why? It may be due to menstruation or menopause or your diet could be imbalanced. Various medications - including the pill - and family history could also be to blame.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Dr Yeates says a doctor can prescribe specific migraine analgesics. You may also need medication
to balance hormones. She recommends a nutritional analysis to make sure it's not a sensitivity to certain foods.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Place a drop of basil oil on the nape of the neck and the temples. Blend two drops
of peppermint and one each of basil, rosemary and eucalyptus oil into 10ml of massage base oil.
Apply warm to the scalp and massage in.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Take Cordyceps, a Chinese herb that promotes sound sleep and reduces stress. Acupuncture can help with severe outbreaks. Cut back on foods containing Tyramine, an amino acid known to increase blood pressure. These include dairy products, bananas, avocado, canned fish, tomatoes and wine.

the culprit: Tension headache

what's happening and why:
You have a dull and steady pain that causes a tight feeling around your head, scalp and neck. The reason for this? Causes can range from not getting enough sleep, feeling down and depressed
or feeling stressed.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Go to bed earlier and try relaxation and meditation (which is now widely accepted in mainstream medicine as an effective stress manager). Acupuncture, another popular alternative, should also help. If you're down, a doctor can advise if your depression requires counselling and/or medication.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Take two drops of lavender oil and one drop each of mandarin, marjoram and Roman chamomile. Mix these into 10ml of base oil and massage over the chest, breast and neck and shoulder areas.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Tension headache is frequently caused by tightening of the musculature around the back and side of the neck, so it will respond well to massage and acupressure into the trigger points of these muscles, which will release the tightness of the muscle fibres and allow the tension to subside.

the culprit: Cluster headache
what's happening and why:
You have terrible pain behind one eye or near it. Your nose is congested and your eyes are watery. The reason? You've been living the high life, with rich food, lots of alcohol and cigarettes.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Aspirins and paracetamol will help with the symptoms, but prevention is better than the cure. If you can't curb your habits, you may have to consider lifestyle management counselling.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Make a warm compress. To do this, add one drop of basil oil and two drops of lavender oil to tepid water and immerse a face cloth in the mixture. Wring it out and place it over your forehead as you rest.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Stress, alcohol and smoking are the usual causes of cluster headaches. Guarana has been found to bring relief. Simply massaging gently in the web between your thumb and index finger can also be helpful.

the culprit: Sinus headache
what's happening and why:
Your nose is very runny and the dull ache in your head is located around your nose and ears, sometimes stretching back to your ears. What's wrong? Most likely your sinuses
have become infected. You could also have cysts and polyps in your nose.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Medication such as Sinutab, which is a combination of painkillers and antihistamines, is a good start. Anything that is a decongestant, antihistamine or analgesic will help. If you do have an infection, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Add one drop of eucalyptus oil and two each of peppermint and basil oil to 10ml of massage base oil. Massage into chest, neck and shoulders and rub some into your forehead. Make an inhalation with hot water.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Detox to rid the system of toxins. This includes a diet of steamed vegetables and juices. Jamaica dogweed is helpful. A tea of fenugreek seeds will help to ease tension and dissolve excess mucus.

the culprit: Allergy headache
what's happening and why:
Your nose and sinuses are itchy and congested and your eyes are watery and irritated. How come?
It's spring - you've been inhaling pollen or hanging out in some dusty places. (When did you last vacuum your bedroom?) But you might have a food allergy or be experiencing a chemical reaction.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Try a desensitisation program. It takes weeks to test for various allergies, but it's worth it. You can
get a vaccination that builds up your immune system. A doctor may also prescribe antihistamines and cortisone preparations.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Add two drops of Roman chamomile oil, two drops of lavender oil and one drop of basil oil to 10ml of massage base oil. Massage this mixture over the entire body, paying particular attention to the neck and shoulder areas.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Keep a diary to determine which foods are causing headaches, then eliminate them from your diet.
Try a cleansing program, including aerobic exercise to oxygenate the body, eating betacarotene-rich food (orange and yellow fruit and vegies) and foods that contain chlorophyll, such as spirulina and chlorella.

the culprit: Caffeine headache
what's happening and why:
You're trying to give up coffee and maybe also tea and cigarettes. So, why do you have a throbbing pain in your head? There's no obscure reason for this - quite simply, you're highly addicted to caffeine.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Dr Yeates says she went cold turkey to kick her 10-plus coffees a day habit. She now drinks only weak peppermint tea. If you can't manage this, at least try to limit yourself, cutting back a little each day. Yeates says the principal cure is a matter of gradually weaning yourself off the caffeine.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Add two drops of Clary sage oil, one drop of mandarin and two drops of lavender to 10ml of massage base oil. Apply as a chest, neck and shoulder rub. You can also vapourise this mixture in an oil burner. This combination is fantastic to use to relieve symptoms associated with withdrawal.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Drink lots of water - a large glass of it every three hours - and use a cleansing enema to help release the toxins ingested by having caffeine.

the culprit: Exertion headache
what's happening and why:
The pain is all over your head. Why? You might have been exercising heavily - but even having sex or violent sneezing or coughing can bring it on. Worse, aneurisms or brain tumours can be the cause. It could also be part of a migraine or cluster headache.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
One of the possible causes is an aneurism - a ballooning out of a blood vessel in the brain, a weakening in the arterial wall - so immediate medical attention is called for. If an aneurism bursts, it can cause cerebral haemorrhage, which is critical. A brain tumour is another possible cause which also requires immediate medical assessment and treatment.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Add two drops of bergamot oil and one drop each of mandarin, lavender and basil oil to 10ml of massage base oil. Apply as a chest, neck and shoulder massage. Massage any remaining mixture into the scalp, using firm finger pressure.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
To counteract the increased muscle activity, apply ice packs, cooling compresses soaked in peppermint oil and take calcium and magnesium supplements. Massage and relaxation treatments, such as shiatsu, will also lower the blood pressure and promote fast recovery.

the culprit: Sore jaw headache
what's happening and why:
Your jaw feels like it's out of whack, misaligned. You're stressed and you're grinding your teeth. Sounds like your problem is with your temporomandibular joint. Say what? Oh, just call it TMJ.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
An aural surgeon can perform surgical manoeuvres to realign the jaw. Teeth grinding due to stress is another possible cause. Identify what's causing the stress and tackle it with your doctor's help.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Apply one drop each of undiluted lavender and basil oils to the temples, the base of the skull
and the TMJ joint. An hour later, apply one drop of undiluted marjoram oil to the TMJ area.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
A massage of the masseter muscle around the sides of the cheeks and the TMJ joint itself
can aid in releasing tension. Use a balm made up of ginger, peppermint oil and wintergreen.

the culprit: Arthritis headache
what's happening and why:
You have a pain in the neck and/or around the back of your head. It only gets worse when you move. So, what's going on? Well, the jury is still deliberating over what causes this type of headache.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Simple analgesics may do the trick. Some anti-inflammatories may also be needed, either in the form of gels you can massage into your head or prescribed oral medication.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Combine two drops each of Roman chamomile and lavender oil, plus one drop of basil oil and massage into the affected area, as well as into the chest, neck and shoulder areas.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Feverfew supplements have been shown to be of benefit for this type of headache. Reduce intake of acid-forming foods, such as red meat, alcohol, sugar, dairy foods and eggs.

the culprit: Eyestrain headache
what's happening and why:
Aah - the pain is located in your forehead. Your computer screen is too bright or the characters you look at are too small. You may have developed an astigmatism which may be affecting your vision. High blood pressure is another possibility.
traditional medicine [by Sydney-based GP, Dr Erika Yeates]:
Make an appointment with an optometrist to have your eyes checked. You may be prescribed glasses or asked to do exercises to restore the balance in the eye muscles.
aromatherapy [by aromatherapist Judith White]:
Add one drop of rosemary oil and two drops each of basil and mandarin oil in 10ml of massage base oil. Massage into the chest, back (over the spine), neck and shoulder areas to bring relief.
natural remedy [by Zen Living's
Stephen Wayne-Smith]:
Try a cold compress of chamomile teabags to relax the eyes. Chill out in a quiet area with subdued lighting and float away with some favourite music.

 If your headache doesn't respond to any of the simple remedies outlined, please seek immediate medical advice.

 


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