Does your head hurt? You’re not alone. According to data from the World Health Organization, WHO, 47% of adults have suffered at least one episode of headache in the last year. And up to 1 in 20 suffers all or almost every day. And that’s where there is a problem that can be treated. Because a punctual headache, however annoying it is, is not important. You take an analgesic and you usually forget this disorder.
The problem is when it repeats itself and affects daily life, preventing us from realizing our plans, whether family, vacation, work or whatever kind. With this guide against headache we want to give you solutions so that you can forget about it and live without discomfort.
1HOW TO RELIEVE HEADACHE
To get the treatment right and eliminate the headache it is important to identify the type of headache that is being suffered. But it is not easy to name it. And is that there are more than two hundred types of headaches , many of them of unknown origin and are due to various causes, some of them surprising. Therefore, it is common to confuse their symptoms and not know very well what type of pain is suffered and, therefore, how to address it. Of all the types of headaches, there are four that are the most common. We explain how to recognize them, their possible causes and, most importantly, what to do and what to take to alleviate them.
2TENSION HEADACHE, THE MOST COMMON
- How is it. Pain may feel like wearing a helmet that compresses the head at the top and sides; or as a lacerating pressure on the back of the skull, neck and shoulder, which can be confused with a cervical problem.
- Causes. It arises from muscle contraction in the neck and / or scalp. It usually appears in times of tension and stress and is mainly due to the tension or stiffness of the muscles in this area. Those who suffer from it are usually perfectionists, demanding and very responsible.
- How to treat this pain It is advisable to take a hot bath or shower, with the water directed to the neck, drink a relaxing infusion and stretch to disconnect. With analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen) pain can be calmed, but the problem is not solved. In your case what you need is to calm the tension and reduce stress. This can be helped by techniques such as yoga or meditation, but the important thing is to find what works for you. The best techniques are those that combine physical and mental relaxation. Maybe your perfect way to relax is to dance or go for a walk with music or swimming.
- Home remedy. If the tension headache is due to physical or mental stress, the application of hot water (bath, shower or compress) relaxes the contracted muscles. In this sense, it is also convenient to massage the neck and shoulder area, or press the highest point of each eyebrow. It also helps to stretch and massage to relax the area.
3MIGRAINE OR MIGRAINE, THE MOST DISABLING PAIN
- How is it. The pain is throbbing and intense and affects the entire head or side. It starts suddenly but before you can feel irritability, nausea or vision disturbances. They are very variable crises in intensity, frequency and duration. They can be preceded by confusion, tingling, vision of small lights, loss of strength in arms or legs or mood swings.
- Causes. Sleeping little or too much, tiredness, rest after a period of stress (the typical pain at the beginning of the weekend), food, smoking, changes in temperature, noise and certain medications (contraceptives, antihypertensives) are the most common causes.
- What to drink To relieve migraine pain, the doctor usually prescribes, in addition to NSAIDs, analgesics, antiepileptic drugs and antidepressants. But to prevent it, it is necessary to change habits and / or food. To do this, we must identify the causes of the migraine.
- Other causes more controversial . It has been aimed at excess serotonin and also histamine in people with a low level of the enzyme diaminooxidase, but more research is needed.
- Home remedy. Cold and hot water Migraines are usually triggered by arterial vasodilation. To re-constrict the blood vessels, ideally cold water in the form of a compress or by applying ice (wrapped in a plastic bag and a dish towel). At the same time, hands and feet are submerged in hot water, which causes excess blood to flow to the extremities and decongest the head.
4CLUSTER HEADACHE, A VERY INTENSE PAIN
- How is it. They are very intense but short crises (30 to 60 minutes). Pain is concentrated on one side of the head and / or around the eye. It can cause tearing, congestion or swollen and red eyes.
- Because it happens. The triggers are usually the same as in migraines; but in this case, when the crisis ceases, there is no feeling of being sick.
- How the doctor treats her Pharmacologically with vasoconstrictors, triptans or pure oxygen inhalation. The triptans contract the blood vessels of the brain and return them to their normal state, calming the throbbing pain. They can also relieve other symptoms of migraine such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light.
5TRIGEMINAL NEURURIA, INTENSE AND LESS KNOWN PAIN
- How is it. It is considered one of the strongest pains that exist. It causes an extreme and sudden burning in the face and lasts up to seconds to minutes. It is like an electric shock that occurs in the trigeminal nerve, one of the longest nerves in the head. The trigeminal has three branches that pass through the eye, cheek and chin. Pain may appear on one or all branches and usually on only one side of the face. At first it can be confused with a very strong dental pain.
- Causes. The most common cause is that a blood vessel compresses the trigeminal. Episodes of pain can be triggered by brushing teeth, eating, drinking, shaving …
- How is it treated? With antiepileptics, antidepressants or relaxants.
6WHAT TO TAKE FOR THE HEADACHE
Nowadays there is a wide battery of medicines to treat the different types of headaches and to guide preventive treatments that not only reduce the intensity but also reduce the frequency of the crises.
DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE OR MODIFY THE SCHEDULED DOSES WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR.
- General analgesics. The most common is paracetamol and is indicated for cases of mild tension headache. It is less aggressive than others such as ibuprofen, but if taken too much can affect the liver.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Given its anti-inflammatory power, they are prescribed to treat migraine attacks. They act by blocking cyclooxygenase or cox, a substance involved in the processes of inflammation and pain. Of course, you have to be careful because, if they take more than fifteen days a month, they can chronify the pain. And not only that, it is estimated that up to one in fifty people have headache caused by excessive intake of analgesics.
- Triptans. They are used to combat cluster headache and moderate or severe migraine attacks. The usual triptans are sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan. They act by contracting the blood vessels of the brain and returning them to their normal state, calming the throbbing pain. They can also relieve other symptoms of migraine such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light.
- Opiates They are very effective in treating acute headache. How they act They bind to brain receptors responsible for pain and, together with endorphins and enkephalins, opiate neurotransmitters produced by the body itself, eliminate pain.
- Antidepressants They are used to treat and also to prevent tension headaches and migraines. How they act They regulate the levels of chemical substances such as serotonin and noradrenaline, which may be involved in headaches.
- Beta-blockers They are used to prevent migraines and cluster headache attacks. How they act They reduce the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Antiepileptics Created in principle to treat seizures typical of epileptic seizures, they are also used – but in lower doses – to prevent the onset of headaches and migraines. How they act They diminish the neuronal hyperexcitability of the migraine generating centers, preventing them from being triggered.
- Botox injections Botulinum toxin a is used as a preventive treatment in patients with chronic migraine. its subcutaneous or intramuscular application in different points of the head reduces the intensity and frequency of the crises.
7JOURNAL OF PAIN: TO KNOW WHAT TYPE OF HEADACHE YOU HAVE
Create a journal of your pain and write down what you did before each seizure is triggered, what you have eaten, what you feel before it appears … With all this information it will be easier for the doctor to diagnose you. And with a good diagnosis you will find better relief. Here is an example of a very complete headache diary.
Time at which the pain begins:
Duration of pain:
- Seconds or minutes.
- Between 30 min and 3 hours.
- Between 4 and 24 hours.
- More than 24 hours
Location of pain:
- Like a “helmet”.
- On the top of the head.
- In one half of the face.
- Specify which: In one eye and around the area of this eye.
Symptoms with which it is accompanied:
- Visual aura
- Hypersensitivity (light).
- Others. Specify:
- Pain in the neck.
- Lack of sleep.
- Schedule change.
- Consumption of alcohol.
- I have eaten.
- Others. Specify:
- Acetylsalicylic acid.
- Others. Specify:
8WHAT IF THE HEADACHE IS A SYMPTOM OF SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS?
- Infection. A cold or flu can cause it, but if the headache is accompanied by stiff neck, it can be meningitis, a brain infection.
- Hypertension. If the pain appears on waking and affects the posterior area of the head, it may be due to a high tension that compresses the cerebral vessels.
- Hypoglycemia . When the concentration of glucose (sugar) in the blood drops below normal, pain appears because the brain feeds on glucose.
- Thyroid. Hypothyroidism can cause it due to poor circulation, while hyperthyroidism triggers it due to an increase in pressure.
- Ictus. A sudden headache, with an unusual intensity and that seems to “burn” alerts to the blockage or rupture of a cerebral artery.
- Brain tumor. Suspect if you have never had pain and suddenly the crises are frequent and worsen with the passage of time, being often at night.
9HOME REMEDIES FOR HEADACHE
- Self-massage Gently massage the nape, eyes, temples and base of the nose. To make it more effective and relaxing, you can use a few drops of lavender or mint oil.
- Infusions Take a tisane of petrasite, matricaria or white willow. These herbs, relaxing and anti-migraine effect, help reduce the intensity of pain.
- Calm the attack. Lie down in a room with little light and no noise. Place some cold cloths on the affected area. breath deeply. You can notice relief in 15-20 min.
- Dr. Patricia Pozo Rosich, neurologist and coordinator of the Headache Studies Group of the Spanish Society of Neurology.
- Dr. Mari Luz Cuadrado, neurologist at the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid.
- Dr. David Ezpeleta, neurologist of the Headache Group of the Spanish Society of Neurology.
10HOW TO RELIEVE HEADACHE
To relieve and prevent headaches, the most important thing is to get the right treatment and for this it is important to identify the type of headache that is being suffered. As it is not easy to do, we have developed this simple guide that will help you to name the pain. We start with the location. Think about which area of your head you feel the most discomfort when the pain attacks you.
11TENSION HEADACHE: PAIN IN THE FOREHEAD OR BEHIND THE HEAD
Do you feel like you’re wearing a helmet that compresses your head? Or a very annoying pressure on the back of the skull, never and shoulder? Surely what you have is a tension headache. This type of headache arises in times of tension and stress. Those who suffer from it are usually perfectionists, demanding and very responsible. With mild analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen you can calm the pain, but to solve the problem you will have to learn to relax.
12MIGRAINE: PAIN ON ONE SIDE OF THE HEAD
What you feel is a rhythmic, pulsating and very intense pain. You can notice it in the whole head although it usually concentrates more on one side. Before the pain you can feel alterations of the vision (little lights), irritability and nausea. This type of pain has many causes, mostly related to lifestyle (sleeping a little or a lot, feeding, changes in temperature, tension, stress). To relieve it, the doctor usually orders anti-inflammatories, and in strong migraines, antiepileptic drugs and antidepressants.
13CLUSTER HEADACHE: PAIN AROUND THE EYE
Your discomfort is concentrated on one side of the head and around an eye or on the same eyeball, it can cause tearing and red, swollen eyes. The crises are very intense, but short, from 30 to 60 minutes. Cluster headache is usually treated with vasoconstrictors, triptans or pure oxygen inhalation.
14TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA: THE MOST INTENSE PAIN
You feel an extreme and sudden burning in the face and it lasts from seconds to minutes. As if it were an electrical shock that occurs in the trigémico, a nerve with three branches that pass through the eye, cheek and chin. The pain may appear on one or all of the branches. Currently trigeminal neuralgia is treated with antiepileptics, antidepressants or relaxants.
15WHAT TO TAKE FOR THE HEADACHE: ANALGESICS
Ibuprofen. It has anti-inflammatory effect and is effective in moderate and strong headaches. Do not take it on an empty stomach and avoid it if you suffer from a kidney function disorder.
Paracetamol. Indicated for cases of mild tension headache. It is less aggressive than others such as ibuprofen, but if taken too much can affect the liver.
Acetylsalicylic acid. It is soothing and anti-inflammatory. Treats mild to moderate pain in tension headaches. You should not take it if you have gastric ulcer or coagulation disorders.
16HOME REMEDIES FOR HEADACHE
The infusion of feverfew, for its sedative action, can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches, according to a study published in the journal Cephalalgia. If you want to try it, consult your doctor as it is not compatible with certain drugs. Other infusions that can help you are those of petrasite and white willow, which have a relaxing and anti-migraine effect.
17THE SCHEDULES WITH VERY IMPORTANT
The migraine brain does not like changes. Therefore, it is important to maintain a fixed time to go to sleep and to get up. And sleep the right hours, between 7 and 8 hours a day. Sleeping little or much can lead to a crisis. In fact, many headaches occur over the weekend. It is also important to follow a regular meal schedule, because spending too much time without eating generates hypoglycaemia (a low blood glucose concentration) and, as a consequence, headache.