by Dr. Savitha Suri
Headaches are one of the
most common health grievances of students, adults and even children, Headaches
are very common and usually do not point to a serious illness. But even a mild
headache can disrupt your daily activities
The skull bones and brain tissues do not have pain sensitive nerve fibers. But muscles of face, mouth, throat, neck, scalp and blood vessels on the surface and base of brain are sensitive to pain as they contain pain sensitive nerve fibers.
The tip of these nerve fibers gets stimulated by various causes like stress, muscle tension, lack of sleep etc. The stimulated nerve tip sends message up the length of the nerve fiber to the related nerve cells of Brain. Brain locates the region of stimulated nerve tip based on these signals and we feel the pain or ache.
The headache may be mild, chronic or severe depending on the underlying cause and pain bearing capacity of the individual.
Our body produces natural pain killing proteins called endorphins. One of the theories suggests that people with low endorphin levels suffer from severe headache and other chronic pains in comparison with people having high endorphin levels.
What triggers headache?
Infections like Common cold, Flu, Fever, Ear infection, Tooth infection, Sinus infection, Pneumonia, etc
Coughing - too much coughing can cause a form of traction headache.
Lifestyle causes: Hangover, Excessive alcohol, Stress, Fatigue, Tension, Tiredness, Excessive smoking
Systemic or metabolic conditions, Hypertension, Thyroid disease, Anemia, Kidney failure, Uremia
Brain or head conditions Meningitis, Encephalitis, Head injury, Heatstroke, Sunstroke
Before, during, or after menstruation
Medications (Many drugs designed to relieve pain can actually cause headache when the drug is stopped after a period of prolonged use.)
Alcohol and caffeine withdrawal
Not getting enough sleep
Reading for long periods of time or eyestrain
Doing repetitive work
Staying in one position for a long time, such as working at a computer.
The same causes of headache have been explained in Ayurveda also. These causes vitiate all the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). The vitiated doshas cause tension, migraine, sinus and other head aches.
Few common types of headache are Tension headache, Migraine headache and sinus headache.
Tightening of muscles of face and neck cause tension headache. It is characterized by a dull ache in forehead or back of head and pain in neck and shoulders which travels to head. Causes like less sleep, stress, reading for a long time, and working in front of a computer for long hours can precipitate tension headache.
Migraine headache is caused when blood vessels of head get too much dilated or constricted. Females are more prone to this type of headache than males and migraine tends to run in families. A person suffering from migraine headache feels like vomiting becomes too sensitive to light, sound and other activities. Few people experience spots or flashes before headache. Few facts like menstruation in females, caffeine, alcohol, aged cheese, cured meat, stress, change in sleeping pattern, strenuous exercise trigger migraine headache.
A sinus headache surfaces when fluids in the nose are not able to drain well and pressure builds up in sinuses. A cold, dust allergies, dirty or polluted water air travel may cause this type of headache. Sinus headache causes pain in forehead, cheek bones, nose and stuffy nose. The headache increases when face is bent or touched. The symptoms are worse in the morning.
Although headaches are very common, It is recommended to consult a doctor about your headache. Go to an emergency department if any of the following symptoms occur:
Pain that develops very rapidly
A change in concentration or ability to think
A change in level of alertness
Weakness, numbness, or difficulty in walking
Changes in vision
Headache with a stiff neck or neck pain, or if light hurts your eyes
If you feel that this the worst headache of your life
Headache with dizziness, or a feeling that you are falling to one side
Headache from an injury or blow to the head
Headache with fever.
Home remedies for tension headache
For tension headaches massage few drops of peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil on temples.
Massage the scalp with slightly warmed sesame oil. This relieves tension headache and induces sleep.
Regular exercise, yoga and meditation reduce the stress levels and keep the tension headache at bay.
Persons of vata type can use hot water bags on aching parts and a hot shower will be of good help.
Persons of pitta type can use cold or ice packs on aching parts and wrap a wet cold cloth around neck.
Home remedies for migraine headache
Make a note of facts which trigger the headache and also the foods. Try to avoid these . Avoid spicy foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, onion and garlic. Avoid citrus fruits except lemon.
Try muscle relaxation exercises. Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation and yoga are definitely going to help. Relax at least for half an hour everyday by doing your favorite activities like listening to music, gardening, taking hot water bath etc.
Stick to you a regular sleep pattern and get enough sleep but don't oversleep. Avoid sleeping during the afternoon.
Rest in a dark, quiet room when you feel a headache coming on. Place an ice pack wrapped in a cloth on the back of your neck and apply gentle pressure to painful areas on your scalp.
Home remedies for sinus headache
Breathe in warm, moist air.
Moist the nasal passages with the help of saline nasal spray. A saline spray can be used up to six times per day.
Do not smoke. If you smoke, quit.
Avoid second-hand smoke and polluted air.
Avoid exposure to anything that triggers allergy or sinus symptoms.
Wash your hands frequently to avoid colds.
Seek treatment for a persistent cold before sinusitis sets in.
Avoid alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can cause swelling of nasal and sinus tissues.
April 30, 2006
The above article is educational in nature, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.
Dr.SavithaSuri B.A.M.S is Chief Consultant physician at Chaitanya Integrated Medical Center, Udayagiri, Mysore, Karnataka, India. She is practicing Indian Systems of Medicines since 12 years. By arrangement with http://www.ayurhelp.com/