Most people have had a few headaches in their lives, but the pain has gone away in a couple of hours or so. However, some patients suffer from regular headaches that can be debilitating and significantly impact their quality of life.
No matter where you sit on the scale, though, it’s helpful to understand more about these phenomena. Read on to learn some common causes, tips for preventing headaches, and some treatment solutions to test out.
Causes of Headaches
Headaches can fall into two broad categories: primary or secondary ones. Primary headaches are called that name because they stem from direct problems with the structures in the head or overactivity of such structures.
Since they don’t arise due to underlying health problems, they’re seen as primary headaches. Sufferers are typically more genetically predisposed to get the headaches, and they can have chemical activity in the brain that leads to this pain.
Also, challenges with nerves or blood vessels around the skull or head and neck muscles can contribute to these issues. Primary headaches include migraines, cluster, and tension headaches, as well as the rarer sex, cough, exercise, and chronic daily headaches.
Secondary headaches are those that arise due to underlying medical conditions. Another health issue, whether mild, minor, severe, or life-threatening, can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head and cause headaches as a result.
Examples include ear, nose, and throat disorders like sinus infections, and eyesight strain and other vision problems, including glaucoma. Dental-based problems can cause headaches, too.
For example, bruxism (grinding the teeth), abscesses, tooth decay, and misalignment between upper and lower jaws can create muscle tension and, thus, pain in the head. Tight neck, back, head, and shoulder muscles can cause tension headaches, as can poor posture or misalignments of the neck and spine.
A poor diet and sleep deprivation, as well as a lack of exercise, can trigger tension headaches too. Furthermore, secondary headaches often crop up when people are experiencing hormonal fluctuations, start taking new medications, are dehydrated, or eat the wrong foods or drinks.
Headaches can also be caused by more worrying conditions like brain tumors, trauma to the head or body, a stroke, and high blood pressure, among many other things.
Tips for Preventing and Treating Headaches
There are numerous ways to prevent headaches and treat them when they occur.
- Since headaches are often triggered by diet, pay attention to this area. Don’t skip meals too often and try to eat healthily, avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption and processed meats where possible.
- Try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Practice healthy sleep hygiene, such as not having caffeine late in the day or looking at screens close to bedtime.
- Move more, since a sedentary lifestyle can make your muscles tighter and shorter and lead to more headaches. Exercise daily where possible, even if only for 20 minutes or so.
- Pay attention to your posture and don’t sit or stand in one spot for too long. Get up and stretch and move to keep yourself more limber.
- Manage your stress levels. Too much stress can trigger headaches, so look for ways to relax your mind and body, such as via yoga, Pilates, deep breathing, and meditation.
- Avoid overusing medication, especially painkillers, because withdrawing from or even using too much of these things can cause headaches.
- Get your eyesight checked and wear glasses or contact lenses as needed. If you need eye surgery or other treatment, get this done, so you don’t have vision-based headaches continually.
- See your dentist to get any dental issues treated, such as fillings or teeth removed. You may need to get a special mouth guard to stop you from grinding your teeth in your sleep, too.
- Many people treat their headaches with painkillers, but it pays to opt for other solutions where possible. For example, marijuana or CBD oil can assist with pain management. Check out online retailers for solutions, such as these Massachusetts weed suppliers.
- Get regular massages or acupuncture or utilize a foam roller to release tension in your head, neck, and shoulders and minimize pain and discomfort.
- Drink more water, since many headaches are brought on by dehydration and will go away if you rehydrate correctly.
- Lie down in a dark room and try to sleep or at least rest while your headache persists.
- Use hot or cold compresses on your head, neck, and shoulders.
- See a doctor to get any underlying headache causes diagnosed and treated.
Headaches are common but frustrating, so the more you understand how they work and what they’re caused by, the better.