Each year, around 45 million Americans complain about headaches. It is one of the ailments people complain about the most. Approximately 8 million people per year make a trip to the doctor to seek diagnosis and management for headaches. Making a correct diagnosis is the most efficient way to get control of this common problem. Causes include: tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and neuralgia headaches. Headaches vary in severity and length.
Many people reach for over-the-counter pain killers to bring them relief. However, there are some other ways to potentially dull or eliminate the pounding in your head. Below, I will detail features of the various kinds of headaches.
- A tension headache is the most common and appear due to stress or fatigue. If these become chronic or frequent, a person should see a doctor as there may be an underlying condition. Neck stretching, proper pillow and neck alignment including at work can really solve this problem.
- A migraine can be debilitating; they are known as vascular headaches, because they come about from the changes in size of arteries that feed into the brain, which alter serotonin levels that lead to pain. Migraines are often precipitated by stress, allergies, bright light, loud sounds, changes in hormones, and diet/foods.
- A cluster headache often comes without warning and reoccur in clusters where the pain comes and goes. They are even more painful than a migraine and they can last for weeks or months on and off. A cluster headache can last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours, recur several times throughout the day. This headache type is considered of a vascular type like migraine.
- A sinus headaches occur from swelling and congestion of the sinuses cause by allergic nasal congestion or infection in the sinus cavities which is known as sinusitis.
- A stress headache is the result and response from the body after it experiences physical, emotional, and biochemical stresses. Tension headaches are often referred to as stress headaches.
Following is a list of non-medicine strategies for headache management.
- Avoid over-sleeping or under-sleeping
- Neck and shoulder stretching
- Apply heat and cold to the temples and neck
- Exercises like walking, biking, swimming, or yoga
- Meditation and relaxation exercises like deep breathing and listening to music
- Diet review- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, aspartame, tyramine (in nuts, cheeses, soy), phenylethylamine (in chocolate and cheeses, MSG, nitrites, and nitrates (flavoring), which can trigger headaches for some people
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy including biofeedback and workplace evaluation (for tension/stress headaches)
- Sublingual immunotherapy if the problem is allergic rhinitis
For typical/common temporary headaches, a person can try to take over-the-counter pain relievers, get lots of rest, eat properly, exercise, and stay hydrated. If you have debilitating headaches or frequently-occurring headaches, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. If you suffer from persistent, new or undiagnosed headaches and need help, schedule an appointment with Dr Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness in Fort Myers. Dr. Kordonowy can help determine the cause of your head pain and come up with a treatment plant to prevent or minimize future headaches. Click here or call 239-362-3005, ext. 200 to book an appointment.