Monday, March 4, 2013

5 Common Headaches

We’ve all likely had headaches in our lives. They come in different forms and can be caused by a wide array of things. One-time occurrences are common, but so too are recurring headaches. It’s important to recognize different types of headaches and what’s causing them so you can minimize the chance you’ll get another one as well as determine proper treatment.
Headache types by location
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Let’s start with the common, self-induced hangover headache. Doctors aren’t positive what exactly causes hangover headaches. Alcohol can cause blood vessels to become inflamed and dehydrates us, both common causes of headaches. Circumstances like staying up late and missing out on morning caffeine can also be contributors. Drinking extra water while drinking, before bed, and after waking up can help reduce hangover headaches. Over the counter painkillers can also be used.

Tension headaches are also common and are characterized by their “behind the eyes” location. If your headaches just behind your eyes or forehead, it’s likely a tension headache and can be treated using over the counter products. Likely causes of these headaches are eyestrain, bad lighting or fluorescent lights. They are generally mild.

Massage can treat and prevent migraines
Massage can treat and prevent migraines
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If your headache is just behind one eye or much more severe, it could be a migraine. Migraines are triggered by a number of things, including common food additives, caffeine, aspartame, sulfites, tannins, nitrites, alcohol, hidden additives (Tyramine or Phenylethylamine), and even leftovers (higher levels of Tyramine). Non-food causes can include stress, sleep deprivation, dehydration, fluorescent or bright lighting, and more. Migraines are often treated using prescription medication, though massage therapy is also a viable method for prevention.

Cluster headaches and migraines share many symptoms, but cluster headaches are unique in that they usually awaken someone from sleep. The also often last for a much shorter period of time—15 minutes to 3 hours—than migraines do (they can go on for days). Like migraines, prevention is key for cluster headaches and regular pain medications won’t have an effect. Treatments can include inhaling oxygen through a mask, local anesthetics, and prescription medications.

Cause or cure?
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Caffeine headaches can be brutal if you’re used to ingesting a lot of caffeine. They are most common in the morning and can be a catch-22 for the sufferer. While an occasional cup of coffee to cure the headache can help, doing so more than twice a week may call for additional treatment. Caffeine can also be a cause of headache, so be careful not to get caught in this cycle.