Headache and Its Management

A headache or cephalalgia is the pain anywhere in the region of head or neck. Headache is a non – specific symptom which has many possible causes. Some headaches are harmless and some are life threatening, mainly two types of headache

  1. Primary headache
  2. Secondary headache

Primary Headache

About 95% of headache is of this type. There is no underlying pathology but cause significant pain.

  1. Tension headache – This is the most common type. Dull, constant, pain around the head as if a rubber band stretched around it, not throbbing or disabling. Causes are stress, drinking too much alcohol, not enough sleep, depression, skipping meals, dehydrated condition, etc.
  2. Migraine – This is less common, recurrent and disabling to carryon with daily life, more in female compared to males. It is pounding or throbbing pain on one or both side of head associated with aura, visual zigzag symptom, blurred vision, sensitive to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Attacks are more frequent prior to menstrual cycle, exposure to sun, and lack of sleep.
  3. Cluster headache – This is rare type, it is excruciatingly painful, causing intense pain around one eye. They are called cluster because they happen in cluster for a month or two, 5-6 attacks in a day around the same time of the year. Common in men in late 20’s

Secondary Headache 

It is due to a problem elsewhere in the body or underlying diseases. Some headaches are harmless and some are life threatening, like

  • Sinusitis – a condition in which the sinus gets inflamed.
  • Neck pain – headache is felt due to stress or tension in the neck.
  • Excessive consumption of pain killer medication increases the intensity of headaches.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, hangovers, dental problems etc.

These are some of the less serious headaches

Meningitis, brain tumor, glaucoma, blood clot in the brain, carbon monoxide poisoning etc, are life threatening headaches.

Investigations – Diagnosed by clinical history alone. To rule out underlying cause one is advised to do ESR, neuro imaging, lumbar puncture and serology.

Treatments – Treatment of headache depends on the underlying cause. Lifestyle change is the main treatment for all headaches.

During acute attack

  • Relaxation: try to relax in a dark room
  • Steam inhalation: to relieve congestion.
  • Ice massage to head and neck: helps to divert the circulation and numbs the area, especially in congestive headaches.
  • Hot foot immersion: diverts the circulation towards legs.
  • Hot foot and arm bath: induces good sleep and reduces headache.
  • Hot and cold fomentation for neck: releases muscle tension in the neck.
  • Head massage: dry massage on scalp or sinuses helps in improving the circulation, calms the person, drains the sinuses and reduces intensity of pam.
  • Ice cube sipping to control nausea, vomiting if associated with head ache.

Call for emergency for the following 

  • The worst headache of life
  • Headache significantly worse on lying down
  • Speech, vision, or movement impaired
  • Trouble in finding right words

For prevention of headache

  • Mud pack for abdomen and eyes in the morning hours.
  • Enema weekly once.
  • Cold hip/neutral hip bath.
  • Oil massage weekly once.
  • Steam or sauna bath on weekly basis.
  • Sun bath in the morning and evening time

Diet 

The increased acidity in the body is the root cause for pain; hence cultivate the habit of drinking 8-10 glasses of water.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat food on time.
  • Fasting on liquids or on fruit diet once a week.
  • Avoid tea, coffee, chocolates, deep fried food, sugar, maida, non vegetarian food, frozen food, alcoholic beverages, chewing tobacco, zarda, pan. etc

Yoga and exercise

These are usually stress buster, helps in preventing headache since it relaxes nerves and muscle tension.

  • Kriyas like jalaneti followed by kapalabathi to improve the circulation.
  • Pranayama like anuloma- viloma, nadi shodhana and bhramari helps in calming down the tension
  • Asanas like tadasana, bhujagasana, shashankasana, neck and shoulder exercise on daily basis will be beneficial.
  • Relaxation technique like yoga nidra, meditation helps in balancing the psychosomatic conditions.
  • Walking, playing games, extracurricular activities help diverting the mind so one is not conscious of headache. Regular exercise gives sound body and sound mind.

Acupuncture and acupressure – works on the basis to balance the energy flow and sharp pricks prompt nerve signals that override pain sensation or they release the body’s own pain killing chemicals.

THE ONLY WAY TO GET THROUGH LIFE IS EITHER TO CRY OR LAUGH THROUGH IT. PREFER TO LAUGH, CRYING GIVES HEADACHE.

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