And Other Things You Can Live With But Could Get Along Very Well Without - Headaches

The common headache is probably as ancient as primitive man. The headache, a pain or ache across the forehead or within the head, may be severe or mild in character, and can last anywhere from under half an hour to three or four days. It may be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, nasal stuffiness, or difficulty in seeing or hearing. It is not a disease or illness but a symptom.


Headaches in today's modern world can arise from any of a number of underlying causes. These include excessive drinking or smoking, lack of sleep, hunger, drug abuse, and eye-strain. Eyestrain commonly results from overuse of the eyes, particularly under glaring light, or from failure to correct defective vision.

Treatments for headaches are as varied as the causes of headaches. Diagnosis may take some time, but if you suffer from severe or chronic headaches, it is important to consult your doctor. Headaches may point to an underlying problem, such as high blood pressure.

Headaches that are non-debilitating may be treated with analgesics such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Debilitating headaches such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches can be treated with prescription drugs if your doctor advises it.

Chronic headaches should be diagnosed so the sufferer does not have to always depend on medication to treat the problem. Long-term solutions may include meditation, relaxation exercises, and exercise to reduce tension and stress. Dietary changes such as eliminating chocolate, caffeine, cheese, alcohol, sugar, or other products may also help.


Migraine, also called sick headache , is a particularly severe, intense kind of headache. An attack may last several days and necessitate bed rest. Dizziness, sensitivity to light, and chills may accompany a migraine headache.

The exact cause of migraine is unknown, but researchers suspect a hereditary link, since the majority of migraine patients have one or more close relatives with migraine.

Migraine headaches can occur from changes in body hormone balances, sudden body temperature changes, bright light or noise, shifts in barometric pressure, and alcohol and drug use. It may also be caused by a combination of these triggers.

For chronic migraine sufferers, keeping a daily journal of food consumed, activities done, emotional status, and (for women) menstrual cycles, may help provide an indication of why migraines occur.

Migraines can be avoided by eliminating any apparent triggers. The fluctuation in estrogen is believed to be a major cause of migraines. Some foods only bring on headaches during certain times of the menstrual cycle. Hormone replacement therapy, some types of birth control pills, and menopause may increase incidence of migraines, although menopause may also end migraines in women who had them for years.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are characterized by a painful pressure in the head. Such headaches can be caused by stress, depression, or poor posture and should be treated with analgesics such as aspirin and ibuprofen, a massage or a cold shower. Tension headaches can occur at any time; you can even wake up with one. The best long-term treatment is learning to reduce or manage the stress in your life.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches cause pain around a specific area of the head, and eye tearing, nasal stuffiness, and a burning sensation on the side of the head affected. The headaches usually last only a few hours but are usually described as excruciating. These headaches usually occur after a person has fallen asleep and typically affect men and heavy smokers. Since the pain is resistant to over-the-counter medicine, cluster headaches can be treated with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, or inhaling 100 percent oxygen.

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