Healthy Habits for Bonsall & Fallbrook Folks

Headaches – Disrupting the mind


Last updated 11/7/2019 at 4:37pm

There are many causes of and treatments for headaches.

Special to Village News

Headaches are actually quite complicated, and there's not always a simple answer when it comes to causality. That difficulty is why some people continue to suffer from chronic headaches.

There are different types of headaches, different reasons why they happen and different types of treatments. The complexity of a headache lies in the fact that there are over 150 types.

The most common types of headaches include the following:

1. Migraines: This pounding and throbbing pain can last for 3-4 hours or longer. They can also happen up to four times or more per month. A person becomes sensitive to light, might feel nauseous, lose their appetite or become very sensitive to smells.

2. Tension headaches: This most common type of headache can cause mild to moderate pain and will go away over time.

3. Cluster headache: These are most severe type of headache. They tend to happen in groups, hence the name. They can happen multiple times per day and last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. The person might feel a piercing pain behind one eye with constant throbbing and pounding.

4. Sinus headaches: The person feels a throbbing in their cheeks, bridge of the nose and forehead. The person typically also has a runny nose, clogged ears and a fever. Their sinus cavities have become inflamed.

5. Chronic daily headaches: This type of headache can last 15 days or more. Sometimes they are short, and sometimes they can last 4 or more hours.

There are other types of headaches that are less common, but that doesn't downplay their disruption to someone's day. Exercise can cause headaches because the muscles in the head and neck and surrounding area need more blood. This increased blood pressure can cause a pulsing pain.

Post-traumatic headaches can also occur even up to two to three days after a head injury. Hemicrania continua is an ongoing headache that usually affect the same side of the face and head. Hormone headaches can occur as the hormones are shifting during menstruation or menopause.

Many migraine sufferers have become frustrated trying the various treatment options; however, there are some rather new treatment options one might consider and may not have yet tried.

1. Cefaly is an electrical stimulation device approved by the Food and Drug Administration that patients wear across the head like a head band. It can be worn once daily for 20 minutes.

2. Botox: About every 12 weeks, the person receives injections near the head and neck. In about two weeks, improvement should take place.

3. Mild anesthesia: SPG or sphenopalatine ganglion is an FDA procedure that numbs the nerve cells behind the nose. The trigeminal nerve is linked to headaches and can be blocked.

4. Counseling: There are different approaches including acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness-based therapy that focus on being aware of the body and accepting migraine pain.

5. CRGP inhibitors: These are a new class of drugs that block the calcitonin gene-related peptide which causes migraine pain. This treatment can be self-injected once per month.

The brain becomes overwhelmed by different signals coming from the blood vessels and nerves. Couple these variables with illness, stress, genetics and environmental changes and headache suffers become at high risk for a headache.

To this day, doctors still do not know what exactly causes a migraine, making treatment difficult. Doctors might suggest a CT or MRI. Treatment depends on headache type, cause and how often.

There are of course over-the-counter and prescribed medications or they might suggest seeking help for stress management or using electronic medical devices.

Headaches cause trouble for many people, and finding the solution for help can be frustrating. Pressure is always difficult, especially to the head. Be patient and over time solutions may be found to keep headaches at bay.

Megan Johnson McCullough holds a master's degree in physical education and health science, is a candidate for her doctorate, is a professional natural bodybuilder and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine master trainer.


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