Get rid of your headache, get on with your life!

From agonising tension headaches, a dull twinge behind your eye or a throbbing migraine that leaves you longing for a darkened room, most of us have suffered from a headache at some point. One in seven people in the UK (that's more than eight million people) suffer from migraines and 25 million working days are lost every year due to headaches (1).

But that's not much consolation if you regularly, or occasionally, suffer. So we thought we would take a look at 5 of the most commonly experienced types of headaches, what causes them, and how to get rid of them!

Tension headache

Three out of four adults will experience a tension headache at some point, and whilst the pain is usually mild to moderate, it can still be debilitating. You'll normally feel better after a couple of hours, but as tension headaches commonly occur at work, it can make concentrating a challenge.

What are the triggers?

Stress, tiredness, staring at a computer screen, poor posture and excessive noise can all bring on one of these headaches.

How to get rid of them:

Being aware of and avoiding your triggers is the best way to avoid the onset of a tension headache, although it may not always be possible to reduce your stress levels. If you have time, try a lunchtime workout with a yoga session or take a few minutes out of your day to meditate. Getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help, whilst taking over-the-counter pain killers can also provide relief.

Migraine

Migraine headaches are the longest lasting type of headaches, with the average migraine lasting anywhere from four to 72 hours (2). The pain ranges from an average moderate headache to debilitating pain, which usually begins around your eye and temple. Light and sound can make the pain worse, so spending the afternoon watching motivational movies on the couch isn't really an option either! To make matters worse, nausea and vomiting plus blurred vision can often accompany a migraine.

What are the triggers?

Migraines can be caused by some foods or ingredients, such as aged cheese, alcohol, MSG and chocolate. Stress can also be a factor, so it's important to learn to relax. Up to 80% of people who suffer from migraines have a family history of migraines (3). Other triggers can include excessive noise, bright lights and even lack of sleep, so make sure you get your eight hours.

How to get rid of them:

Identifying your triggers is the first step on the road towards banishing migraines or at least alleviating your symptoms when they do strike. The pain can be treated with painkillers targeted specifically at migraines, which you'll find in most chemists. If you suffer from migraines regularly, it's worth visiting your GP, who can prescribe a nasal spray or stronger pain relief. There's some evidence that massage and acupuncture could be beneficial too.

Cluster headaches

These types of headaches can be seriously painful, with one headache after another occurring for between four and 12 weeks – ouch! Each headache can last for over three hours and other symptoms such as a stuffy nose or swollen eyes can also affect sufferers.

What are the triggers?

Nobody really knows exactly what causes cluster headaches but histamine (produced by the body in response to an allergic reaction) and serotonin levels are thought to be linked to this type of headache. Heavy smokers are more likely to experience cluster headaches, whilst alcohol, heat and bright light can also be triggers.

How to get rid of them:

The pain caused by cluster headaches can be severe and can come on quickly, so it can be tricky to treat. Your GP may be able to prescribe Triptans, a type of medication which is usually available in tablet, injection or nasal spray form. In severe cases, inhaling pure oxygen can provide relief.

Caffeine headaches

If you've been trying to cut back on (or cut out) caffeine and have been drinking less tea or coffee than usual, a caffeine headache could strike, and this 'withdrawal' type of headache can be surprisingly painful.

What are the triggers?

Caffeine headaches are brought on by cutting out or cutting back on your intake of caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, green tea and many soft drinks, even some vitamin waters. It's thought that if you consume around 500mg of caffeine a day, suddenly stopping or reducing your intake could lead to these types of headaches, which can really put a downer on your day!

How to get rid of them:

Caffeine headaches are only temporary, so you could pop a painkiller or just wait for the headache to subside, or even have a caffeinated drink. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, make sure you do so gradually, to avoid headaches. Getting plenty of sleep or going for a relaxing aromatherapy massage can also help.

Dehydration headache

Even minor dehydration can lead to a headache which can affect any part of your head. You'll notice a dehydration headache gets worse when bending your neck, moving your head or walking.

What are the triggers?

As the name suggests, dehydration is what causes this type of headache. When your body is dehydrated, the blood vessels in your head can actually become narrower. This is to regulate fluid in the body, but it can have a knock-on effect of making it harder for blood and oxygen to reach your brain. The result? A banging headache!

How to get rid of them:

Stay hydrated! We all need to be drinking between 8 and 10 glasses of water a day (4) but this doesn't have to be pure water. Fruit juice, smoothies and tea and coffee all count. Make sure you are drinking plenty during the summer months, when we naturally sweat more, and when working out at the gym or going for a run. Try sipping some coconut water, a smoothie or pure water until your headache subsides. To tell if you are dehydrated, take a look at your urine. It should be pale yellow, anything darker and you need to be drinking more!


READ THIS NEXT: The best and worst foods to eat when you're unwell

Works cited:

  1. http://www.migrainetrust.org/event-migraine-awareness-week-10794

  2. http://www.migrainetrust.org/faqs

  3. www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Migraine

  4. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 21st Nov 2014 at 11:59
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