Relief And Prevention Of Headaches

What causes headaches and what can bring real relief. Vital facts here on prevention.

Headache is the term that has been used most often to describe pain that is felt in the head. However, there are two categories of headaches: 1) Primary, headaches that occur exclusive of other medical conditions and 2) Secondary, headaches that occur as a result of other medical conditions. Primary headaches can be further categorized as a) migraines, b) tension headaches, and c) cluster headaches. Primary and secondary headaches can occur in any localized area of the head (i.e. temples, behind the eyes, the base of the skull, etc.). The can be perceived differently from one individual to the next, and they can occur either frequently or sporadically.

Most often people describe their headaches as a throbbing, sharp or stabbing pain that is either constant or intermittent. Others have categorized the pain as a dull ache that only lasts for a few seconds.

Now that we know what a headache is, where it can occur, and how often, what are some of the causes of headaches? If you refer to the different categories of headaches you can probably conclude that there are many different causes for headaches. However, at the base of each cause is this basic biomechanical principal: Headaches occur when nerve fibers located in the blood vessels and protective layers surrounding the brain become inflamed. When this happens you experience what is most often referred to as a headache.

There are over 129 classifications for what causes a headache. Here are a few:

Medications: Drugs for high blood pressure or vasodilators. Diuretics, anti-asthma drugs. Frequent use of analgesics.

Lifestyle Issues: Stress, lack of sleep, smoking, fatigue, irregular eating habits.

Dietary Issues: Alcohol, foods containing tyramine, aged cheesed, sour cream, pickled herring, citrus fruits, chocolate, dairy products, onions, nuts, beans, fatty food, hot dogs, luncheon meats, artificial sweetener, MSG.

Environmental Issues: Bright light, strong odors, secondhand cigarette smoke, air pollution, white fluorescent lighting, weather changes.

Physical Issues: Head trauma, invasive medical procedures, exercise, sports, orgasms.

Hormonal Issues: Puberty onset in girls, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, birth-control pills, hormone replacement therapy.

In 2001 over 50 million Americans asked for medical attention for headaches. In the same year over 26 million Americans suffered from migraines.

Many healthcare providers can begin to make a specific diagnosis when they are given information regarding the frequency and the type of pain associated with your headache. If you experience headaches and are unsure as to the cause, consult your primary care provider.

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