Headaches Recognize and fight the causes

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Headaches Recognize and fight the causes

They range from uncomfortable to unbearable. We’re talking about a headache . Some experience them only a few times, while others experience them extremely often. Overall, almost everyone suffers from a headache at least once in their life. That’s why it’s good to know where the pain is coming from and, more importantly, how to get rid of it.

The three most common types of headaches
A headache is not always the same as a headache! This is already evident in the perception of pain, because each of us classifies pain differently, including pain in the head. But headaches in particular have very different causes and characteristics: around 250 different types of headache are defined in the international headache classification . Three of them are the most common.

1. Tension headache

If you have a headache with a dull, oppressive feeling on both sides and the pain is only mild to moderate, it is probably a so-called tension headache. You can usually feel them on the forehead, in the back of the head or they feel like a hood on the head. The pain phases last between 30 minutes and several days.

There are two types of tension headaches: Episodic tension headaches occur with at least ten episodes a year but last less than six months in total. Those affected suffer from chronic tension headaches for more than six months and at least 15 days per month. The duration of the attacks is not fixed.

It was originally thought that tension headaches were caused by tension in the neck and head muscles (hence the name). But we now know that hardly anyone affected has such tension. It is also possible that these headaches have psychological causes and are caused by stress, anxiety or depressive moods or that there are disturbances in the messenger substances in the brain.

2. Migraines

While tension headaches are quite harmless, migraines have a huge impact on everyday life. Many of those affected cannot go to work and other activities are also hardly possible because the pain increases with movement.

The piercing or pulsating pain often occurs together with nausea and vomiting, and those affected are often very sensitive to light and noise. The intensity of migraine headaches is moderate to severe, with the pain only being felt on one side. In general, women suffer from migraines much more frequently than men.

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There are different subtypes of migraine. A migraine can occur with or without an aura. This means that neurological symptoms can occur in addition to the headache. These include visual disturbances such as the perception of flashes of light, stripes or dots, speech disorders, abnormal sensations such as tingling or numbness or even paralysis are possible. But the latter are very rare. It is also possible that the aura occurs without the actual headache.

3. Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are particularly severe . They present as a burning or nagging pain and begin without warning, often within the first few hours after falling asleep or early in the morning. These attacks usually only occur for a few weeks a year, in so-called cluster periods. This is where the name “cluster” comes from.

The headaches occur at different times during this time. This can be once every two days or up to eight attacks a day, with each attack lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours.

Those affected usually feel the pain on one side in the area around the eyes or temples. On the painful side, the eye is red and watery, the nose is running.

Causes can include bacterial vascular inflammation in the veins of the eye, which block blood flow and press on the vessel walls, and a disorder in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain.

Possible causes of headaches
Headaches can have a variety of causes.

1. Stress

Those who often suffer from great strain and stress are often plagued by headaches at night. In addition, headache attacks are much more severe in stressed people than in those who are less stressed. The pain is a sign that the body is overloaded and needs a break .

2. Lack of sleep

The situation is similar with headaches that occur due to fatigue and lack of sleep. The body is not properly recovered due to insufficient or bad sleep and is much less efficient. This causes stress, which leads to tension, which in turn leads to headaches.

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3. Diseases

There are a number of diseases that can cause headaches:

Inflammation (in the jaw area, in the ear, nose and throat area, in the back)
Infections (cold, flu)
high blood pressure
lack of oxygen in the blood due to illness
anemia
tense neck muscles
hormonal mess
Hypoglycaemia in diabetes
Under supply of the body due to chronic fasting
etc.
4. Medication

Taking painkillers too often can also be a cause of headaches. What sounds strange at first is actually the case. However, only if the painkillers have been taken in large quantities over a period of years. Excessive intake for a short time is not enough. But other medications can also trigger headaches, such as those containing nitrates or estrogen for contraception.

5. Dehydration

If the body lacks water, the blood becomes thicker. As a result, fine vessels in the brain are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen, which is transported by the blood. In addition to tiredness, concentration problems and memory disorders, the body often reacts with headaches.

6. Poor eyesight

What hardly anyone knows: Persistent or frequent headaches can also be caused by declining eyesight. Short-sightedness or far-sightedness that is not or not sufficiently corrected can cause headaches.

An eye test is required to detect ametropia . In a first step, the basic vision of the eyes is tested. A device determines where the focal point of the eye is. Depending on the result, there is either farsightedness or nearsightedness. The next step is to determine the exact visual acuity.

What is generally understood as an eye test takes place: You are asked to look through a device and read rows of numbers while the lenses in the device are repeatedly changed in strength until the optimal strength for the person concerned is found. The visual impairment is corrected with glasses or contact lenses of the appropriate strength.

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Other possible causes of headaches due to refractive errors are astigmatism and squinting.

7. Environmental factors

Depending on the type of headache, there are also various environmental factors that can trigger the pain:

flickering light
alcohol
nicotine
staying at high altitudes
Staying in poorly ventilated rooms
headache

In order to get a permanent grip on frequently occurring headaches, doctors often first recommend keeping a headache diary . Among other things, this makes it possible to find out when and in which situations the headaches occur most frequently. This will help identify the cause of the headache so that it can be treated or controlled.

The duration and frequency of the pain attacks, the medical history, the living conditions and which medications are currently being taken are also important for the diagnosis. The doctor also examines the patient for possible physical causes.

Depending on the type of headache, certain therapeutic measures are useful. Possible medications to relieve headaches include:

Painkillers, such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) , ibuprofen, paracetamol or combination preparations, as long as they are not taken more than ten days a month
Triptans or ASA lysinate are often used for severe migraines and cluster headaches
Cluster headaches can also be relieved by inhaling pure oxygen or by applying a local anesthetic to the nostril on the affected side
For non-drug treatment , we recommend:

Cool your forehead and temples
Sport against frequent headaches
Relaxation exercises (progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or similar) against stress-related headaches and migraines
massages
homeopathy
acupuncture
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
chirotherapy
psychotherapy
What can you do to prevent it?
To prevent headaches from occurring in the first place, you should know what you can do to prevent them :

Regular exercise, preferably endurance sports
spend a lot of time in the fresh air
enough and regular sleep
Eat a balanced and regular diet
drink a lot, especially water, tea and juice spritzers, but only little alcohol
do not smoke
allow the body enough rest and relaxation
avoid other known triggers for the headache if possible

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