These days it is very common to hear people around us complaining of headaches and migraines. Some statistics (Source : http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/migraine-statistics.html)
- Over a lifetime, only 1% of us escape headaches altogether.
- Over a year, it is estimated that 90% of the population get at least 1 headache.
- Records have shown more women suffering from headaches and migraines than men
- According the KidsHealth.org, up to 10% of children between 5 and 15 may experience migraine
For me there had been two very distinct phases when I suffered from prolonged headaches and had very different ways in which I dealt with it as well. The latter period had a much more healthy and planned approach to work on the headaches.
The first time when I suffered a prolonged bout of headaches was when I was in my second year of engineering. I assumed it was due to the long hours – partly doing assignments and the rest of the time reading books (not engineering related). Having made this assumption in my head and not wanting mom to stop my reading, I did not tell her. Instead, I started having a Disprin whenever the headaches would pop up. Slowly this started becoming a daily affair. Eventually one pill was not sufficient to stop the headache and so I started taking two a day and then three and eventually needed four pills a day to make the headaches go (intoxication due to medicines). This is when I finally told mom and after getting a good hearing from her, we worked on getting rid of the headaches.
The second time was post my second baby – lil Z, where the sleepless nights along with all other regular activities for big Z took a heavy toll. This accompanied with no exercise and proper diet lead to headaches becoming a regular almost every day. This time detection took some time but a well-planned approach along with some lifestyle changes made a huge difference.
Here are a few pointers on types and causes of headaches and some remedies that I followed. Barring an occasional headache I have not suffered from these long bouts in more than a couple of years since I started working on getting rid of it.
Headaches are of two types – Primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are stand-alone illnesses caused directly by the over activity of, or problems with, structures in the head that are pain-sensitive. This includes the blood vessels, muscles and nerves of the head and neck. They may also result from changes in chemical activity in the brain. Secondary headaches are headaches that are symptoms of another condition that stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head.
Firstly, when trying to treat a headache we need to try to figure out the cause of the headache. Below are some of the causes of headaches which do not require any treatment for headache but simple lifestyle changes and treatment of that condition
- Not eating the right food, crash dieting, too much of spicy food or eating at wrong times
- Not getting enough sleep or frequently interrupted sleep
- Too much screen time – Computer/TV/Phone
- Continuous exposure to loud noise
- Too much physical activity or overexposure to the sun
- Lack of physical activity and a very sedentary life
Here are some simple things that help reducing headaches. Needless to say, consult a doctor first for a proper diagnosis to rule off any serious ailments.
- Basil, Ginger and mint are help in reducing inflammation and act as a muscle relaxant and are known to help reduce headaches. A simple concoction made with boiling a cup of water to half a cup with a few basil leaves, mint leaves and a piece of ginger and sipped helps in reducing headaches.
- Make sure you are well hydrated with at least 8-10 glasses of water. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of a headache and often we don’t realize it.
- Avoiding too much of spicy food and have meals at regular intervals since acidity is also one of the common causes of headaches
- Applying a menthol based cream like vicks or peppermint oil provides temporary relief
- Make a paste with dry ginger powder, nutmeg powder and water and heat it and once its luke warm apply it on your forehead.
- Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce headaches.This understanding is backed up by the research of Herbert Benson (M.D.), Helen P. Klemchuck (A.B.) and John R Graham (M.D.) who found that regularly practicing meditation can reduce headache incidents by at least 37%, and that certain forms of meditation have been shown to eliminate headaches in some individuals over the long. Click here for details on meditation for headaches.
- Practicing these simple yoga postures for a few minutes every day help in reducing headaches. Please click here for detailed description of these asanas
- Hastapadasana (Standing Forward bend)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose)
- Shishuasana (Child pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat stretch)
- Paschimottanasana (Two-legged Forward bend)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)
- Padmasana (Lotus pose)
- Shavasana (Corpse pose)
- If stress is one of the causes for headaches then read on here for more
Lavender oil, eucalyptus oil as well as peppermint oil re very soothing and help sooth headaches.
- Inhaling steam with a few drops of any of the above oils helps to provide relief
- Using these oils in a tea light diffuser too in your room will help sooth during headaches
Headaches are a serious and growing problem that many of us have faced or are facing. Often due to our busy and packed schedules we tend to ignore it initially and only act upon it when it becomes really serious. Please do not ignore the early signs, take control of your health and then notice the difference