Friday, 1 July 2011

Headache: causes and prevention tips

Headaches are a result of irritation of nerves and pain sensitive structures such as the nerves arising from the brain, the blood vessels and muscles in the head and neck region.

Some common varieties of headaches are migraine with aura where the pain is preceded by an aura with blurred vision, tingling in the skin, appearance of zig-zag lines in front of eyes and confusion. The other is migraine without aura, which has no warning aura.

Other kinds of headaches include: Tension headache, Cluster headache, Rebound and Sinus headache. Headaches can also occur due to head injuries.

Headaches are also associated with systemic infections, vascular diseases and metabolic disorders. Most important are those associated with raised pressure in the head which includes headache with tumours.

A detailed history of headaches is essential. The patient should maintain a record of headaches, and an account of sleep, diet, emotional episodes and other contributing factors, leading to headaches.

Maintaining proper diet and regular exercising at a fixed time of the day help prevent headaches.

Stretch frequently if your job requires you to remain seated for long periods of time.

Avoid eating food that triggers headache. Chocolate, wine and aged cheeses can trigger headaches.

Do yoga and meditation regularly to avoid headaches. Performing yoga would help you to manage stress.

You should go to bed every night at a decent time, and make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep.

Don't drink caffeine. Stay away from sodas and coffee that contain caffeine, which restricts blood vessels and causes headaches.

Head massage can also provide relief to headaches. A head massage makes you feel relaxed and calms you mind and revitalise the brain and body. It also improves blood circulation in different parts of your head.

Ice packs have been used for years to treat headaches and they still work. You usually find ice packs at your drugstore. A cold rag on your neck or forehead can also work wonders.

Get your teeth checked regularly. Periodic headaches may be linked to a dental problem.

Pain killers suppress the pain, without affording it a permanent cure. And when the pain resurfaces, it will arrive with double force.

Ventilate your home and workplace.

A neurological examination involving assessment of the cranial nerves, reflexes and brain function is essential. Other tests that may be asked for include CT scan or MRI. Blood tests including a complete blood count and chemistry profile may also be helpful.

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