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Posted on 11-11-2014

Weather change? Barometric pressure? Food sensitivity? Stress? Sleep issues?

The above areas can all lead to one of the most common ailments facing people today. That's right, headaches! I have honestly not struggled with them on a regular basis. I remember my first (and maybe only) migraine when I was 20. I couldn’t lift my head off the couch and to get to the bathroom, I crawled because walking hurt more. The pounding was intense to say the least. That day made me eternally grateful that headaches were not a part of my life. However, as I dive into the five different types of headaches, you will see that some are more common than others; and there is more to treatment than medications.

Five types of Headaches:

 Tension Headache- (Most common) 

Caused by muscle tension (tightening and contractions of the muscles) in the face, scalp, neck and back. 
o    They affect 90-95% of us at least once in a 12 month period. 
o    They can last a short time or a few days. 
o    They vary in intensity. 

•    Massaging the tense muscles directly can bring the intensity down by half.
•    15 minutes walk
•    Stress breaks -deep breathes, stretching, rolling shoulders
•    Avoid the stressor
•    Peppermint oil on the neck or temples can bring instant relief to minor headaches.
•    Be leery of depending on NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like asprin, ibuprofen, or naproxen  every time, as they may cause rebound headaches, lower pain tolerance, and the typical side effects associated with pain medication

Rebound Headache- 

Also known as a medication overuse headache has only one cause and that is over use of pain relievers. 
Getting to the root cause of the first type of headache you have will help to eliminate Rebound Headaches

Sinus Headache-

When sinus cavities are inflamed
o    Frontal-forehead above center of eyebrows
o    Maxillary-within the cheekbones
o    Ethmoid- behind bridge of nose
o    Sphenoid-behind the ethmoid 
Getting to the root cause of your sinus issues as opposed to just taking a pain killer will be the most effective way of treating this type of headache. 

Cluster Headache-

An intense one-sided pain centered by the eye or temple. The pain lasts for one to two hours on average and may recur several times in a day.

o    Causes- This type has a large list of causes. If you are a frequent sufferer of these, keeping a journal of food, activities, sleep schedule can help to determine the causes.

  •    Stress
  •     Lack of food
  •     Lack or sleep or changes in sleep patterns
  •     Dehydration
  •     Bright light or loud noise
  •     Hormonal changes (in women)
  •     Weather changes
  •     Strong odors
  •     Smoking
  •     Certain foods
  •     Caffeine (which is in soda, coffee, chocolate, tea, and energy drinks)
  •     Anxiety
  •     Depression
  •     Exercise
  •     Illnesses or infections
  •     A minor head injury.

Tension and Cluster Headaches can have similar triggers, but the pain may be expressed differently.

Migraine Headache-

Considered the most severe of headaches. This type is categorized by pounding or throbbing on one side or the other, near the temples, forehead, or eyes. The triggers are vast and vary from person to person. The cause of these migraines are unknown for certain, but brain chemicals, blood vessels, and nerves are definitely involved. 

•    Caffeine
o    Limit yourself to around 400mg of caffeine or less per day
    Green Tea= 22mg
    Black Tea=55mg
    Espresso=75mg for single shot
    Drip Coffee=100mg

Most caffeine withdrawal headaches are a result of consuming 500 mg of caffeine or more per day for two weeks or longer before reducing or eliminating caffeine in the diet.
•    Food Additives
o    MSG (B6 helps your body to breakdown natural MSG)
o    Nitrites
o    Aspartame
•    Blood Sugar Levels
•    Gluten
o    A study conducted in 2001 followed 10 patients who suffered severe headaches and who all had MRI tests suggesting inflammation of the central nervous system, were each found to be gluten sensitive. These patients were told to start a gluten-free diet and all but one patient found relief. Seven out of the 10 patients recovered completely from their headaches, while 2 experienced partial improvement. The one patient who continued to suffer from headaches? Well he refused to try the gluten-free diet.
•    Dehydration
o    A good rule of thumb is taking your body weight and dividing it by half. This is how many ounces of water you should drink a day.
o    Eight-8oz glasses a day is also an easy way to remember

•    8 Hours per night of sleep
•    Consistent bed time as well as waking time
•    Keep a journal by your bed for a mind dump 
•    Eliminate caffeine after 2pm (or earlier if needed)

•    Simple tests can determine your hormone levels and may shed light on imbalances that can contribute to a vast array of health issues including headaches

The Path to discovering your triggers can be long and arduous. Talk with one of our docs to help put you on that path. It may be simple and a single solution will bring you great relief. It also may be a combination of things that will help you live a life free from frequent headaches. My oldest kiddo has headaches from time to time. They never seem to be very severe but when he gets them our regimen is peppermint oil and an adjustment. They never seem to linger for long after that 1, 2 punch. If you are suffering from frequent headaches, please consider remedies beyond NSAIDs.

•    Peppermint Oil a few drops to the temples or added to a warm bath or heating pad
•    Feverfew and Butterbur are herbs known to help with headaches. An Herbalist should be consulted for more information.

    Studies show marked improvement of migraines and other headaches with the use of chiropractic, specifically with upper cervical manipulation.

“Cervical spine manipulation was associated with significant improvement in headache outcomes in trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache.”

-- McCrory, Penzlen, Hasselblad, Gray (2001), Duke Evidence Report

“The results of this study show that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches. . . Four weeks after cessation of treatment . . . the patients who received spinal manipulative therapy experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in all major outcomes in contrast to the patients that received amitriptyline therapy, who reverted to baseline values.” ‘

-- Boline et al. (1995), Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics

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