Headaches Affect Nearly 90% of Men and 95% of Women
All kinds of pains are bad. But there is nothing as mentally exhausting as a headache. It affects our well-being, our productivity and even our social existence. After a headache we feel mentally drained and physically exhausted. But then we come to the interesting question, should a bad headache keep a good man down? To find a solution to this question, it is important that we understand more about headaches.
Headaches are of different types. They can be identified as headaches due to migraine, sinus and tension. Now these headaches are very different but they do affect the same part that is the head in general. So if we understand more about them we can reach an interesting conclusion.
And you know what that is? Headaches are largely preventable. Of course there are a lot of cures available over the counter now but do we really have to wait for the headache to start to resort to treatment? Isn’t prevention better than cure? Isn’t it better to be proactive than reactive?
A migraine is a splitting headache that just seems to set in apparently due to no reason at all. The reasons for a migraine are mainly vascular. That means that certain changes in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain trigger of the pain. Of course, the causes for the changes in the blood vessels may vary from person to person but this is generally how it starts.
Migraines are easily the most common headache syndrome. It affects 10 to 15 percent of the global population. One peculiar feature of a migraine is that it usually starts in childhood or adolescence and is most common in young and middle-aged adults.
The only good thing about a migraine is that it usually stops as people get older.
Migraines have nothing to do with a person’s background, upbringing, or social class. Migraines do not discriminate. Migraines have a strong impact on the quality of a person’s life. It affects not only the person but also the lives of those who move in close contact with he person. Migraine attacks can some times be so severe that person may have to abandon his or her routine activities for three or four days at a stretch.
Once the pain of a migraine sets in, it is sheer agony. It is almost as if one side of your head is being ripped off. There is very little a person can do to stop this pain.
The good thing about a migraine is that it is transient, that is the pain will go away after sometime. This usually happens after the person gets a few hours of sound sleep. But the worst thing about migraines is that they recur. But migraines too can be prevented to a very large extent as the tips below explain.
There are two main types of migraine, the classic migraine and the common migraine. Both the classic and the common kind can occur as often as several times a week or as rarely as once every few years.
Both types can occur at any time. But for some people at least, it is possible to predict the occurrence of the migraine. For example there is a greater tendency for a migraine near the days of menstruation or every Saturday morning after a stressful week of work.
Although many sufferers have a family history of migraine, the exact hereditary nature of this condition is not known. People who get migraines are thought to have an inherited abnormality in the regulation of blood vessels. The following factors often act as triggers that set of the migraine.
Stress is one of the major factors that can contribute to the onset of a migraine. Now it may not be possible for you to get away from the cause of stress, particularly if it is something connected with your job.
Anger can trigger of a migraine as well. It would be good for short tempered people to learn ways of controlling their anger. The best method is of course the one to ten method. The next time you get angry count to ten very slowly before you really blow your lid. By the time you get to ten you should have cooled down.
Both physical and mental fatigue can lead to a migraine so do not push your self too much. Enough is enough and when your body starts giving you signals that it has had enough, take heed and stop whatever you are doing. Just bear in mind that a little more productivity on one day is not worth the productivity of the next couple of days.
Sinus problems, too, give rise to headaches. The sinuses are small spaces in the facial bones just below the facial skin. The spaces are concentrated in the nasal region, temples and around the eyes. Sometimes, due to infection, these spaces get inflamed with mucus and infected as well.
This leads to the headache that is the result of sinusitis. There are many causes for sinusitis which are allergy, a deviated nasal septum, and severe cold, enlarged parts in side the nose, and acute ongoing infection.
Tension headaches are also common in many people. Stress and anxiety are causes for tension headaches. The moment such a person gets tense about something, the person develops a tension headache. Insufficient sleep, anxiety, problems, and worries give rise to the tension headache.
50 Tips and Ideas to prevent headaches
Now whatever is the cause or whatever be the nature of the headache, most headaches are preventable. There is no need to endure the pain when you really have an option. Follow the tips given below and you will be amazed to find that the prevention is actually in your hands.
Do not read when you are lying down. The lying down posture is clearly not the best position to read. It is a very common thing for a person to flop down on the bed with a book and read it while lying down. In fact, many people make it a habit to read for a few minutes before going to sleep. Let us say it once and for all; it is not good to read while you are lying down.
If you must read, prop up your head with at least two pillows. If you find it impossible to read while you are in bed, the best thing that you can do is prop up your head with a couple of pillows. Pillows give support to your head and neck so that your head is in a partially raised position. This will cause less harm to your eyes and your head in general.
You need a well lighted room to read. The lighting of your room too is very important. A properly lighted room is what is required if you want to read, do needle work or any other such fine activity. Again too much light is just as bad as a dimly lit room.
The source of light must preferably be behind your head. The source of light should not come in front of your eyes but must be behind your head. This is also true in the case of a computer as well. The source of light should be from behind.
Do not hold the book too close to your eyes. This is some thing that happens when you lei down to read. The book tends to move closer to your eyes than intended. This is something that is bad for your eyes. Your eye muscles have to strain a lot in order to focus on nearer objects. The book should ideally be at the level of your chest.
Do not hold it too far away either. Holding the book too far away is just as bad as holding the book too close. Remember to keep it at chest level. Many bookstores have reading stands that will enable you to keep your book position at the right level.
If you find it difficult to read, get your eyes tested by an oculist. If you find yourself squinting or your eyes watering while you read or do any fine work, then you might need glasses. So do not waste time, consult a doctor at the earliest time possible. Faulty vision is a major cause of headaches.
Be careful of the print size of the book you are reading. If the print of the book is too faint, or if the font size is too small, just toss away the book. Most libraries have large-print versions of books. If this is not available, use a magnifying glass or wear magnifying glasses.
Do not read in moving vehicles. Many people try to read while traveling by car to kill time. However, curves and bumps in the road can cause headaches and even motion sickness.
No matter how smooth the road is and no matter how good the shock absorbers of the car are, there is bound to be jerking motions. This will force your eyes to adjust and readjust to the print and this continuous adjustment and readjustment is very bad for your eyes. At the end of the journey you are bound to end up with a headache.
The light from your T.V or P.C monitor is not enough to read. Some people tend to read in the light that comes from a turned on television set or a computer. This light is not enough for your eyes to pick out what is printed, and should be combined with lamplight or overhead light.
While doing work that requires you to strain your eyes, take breaks every five minutes. This is especially true for jobs like needle work and works involving electronic gadgets.
Use an anti-glare screen to cut out the radiation while working on your computer. Radiation is bad for your eyes and an anti-glare screen is the only and the best solution to this. Another option is to wear glasses that have an anti-glare coating on the lenses.
If your job requires long hours in front of the computer, you may want to consider buying a special lamp that clips on the monitor. This lamp reduces the eye-strain caused by staring at the computer screen, and thus reduces headaches.
Eat plenty of carrots; they are good for your eyes. Carrots are the best things that nature has to offer for eye sight so go ahead and gorge on them. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is the vitamin required for proper eye sight.
Never look at the sun directly, especially between 7 am in the morning and 4 pm in the evening. If you will be outside during this time or driving, be sure to shield your eyes in some manner.
While going outdoors during the summer, protect your eyes using sunglasses. Sunglasses are the best protection that you can give your eyes when you go out in the sun. The sun beats down ultra violet and other harmful radiations. You eyes need protection from these radiations because they can cause serious damage to your eyes if they are directly exposed to them. Below are some tips for choosing sunglasses. The sunglasses must cover the region of your eyes completely. Sunglasses may be of any color that you like but make sure that they guard your eyes against ultra violet radiations. Take care to see that your sunglasses are always clean and free from dust and smudges. The best way to choose your sunglasses is to put them on and stare at your face in a mirror. If you can see your eyes in the mirror, then the glasses are not good enough.
Do not work continuously on your computer for more than half an hour. This in fact is a very relative concept because some people tire faster than other when working on the computer. Computer screens emit radiation, so the less time in front of the computer, the better. If your eyes give you signs that it has had enough take the cue. But often, after you get used to working on the computer, you start ignoring these signs. The best thing you can do is make it a point to give your eyes a break at least every half hour of working on the computer. The best rest that you can give your eyes is staring at a distant object. Or you can try massaging your eyes gently. Please remember that your eyes are unlike any other part of your body so you have to take very good care of them. The same holds true when it comes to massaging your eyes as well. When you massage your eyes take care to use only the soft balls of your fingers. Do not use your finger tips because your nails could give you scratches. The best fingers to massage your eyes with are the three middle fingers, which are the fingers between your thumb and the little finger.
Place the balls of your fingers on you’re your eye brows and gently press down.
Please remember to be gentle; we are not talking about a major massage therapy here.
Now let your fingers roll down around your eyes making gentle circling movements. The motion should start from the eye brows and end at the corners of the eyes near the nose bridge. Repeat this two or three times and you can feel your eye muscles relax. It is a good idea to this at least five or six times a day if you are working at something that gives a lot of strain to your eyes.
If you feel that your eyes are under strain, take a break. The best relaxation for your eyes is staring at a distant object or just keeping them closed. Your eyes will give you signs when they are under strain. You will find that you are getting tired sooner, your eyes may start to water or you might notice that you have to squint your eyes in order to get a better view.
Never watch television while lying down. The best position to watch television is sitting and your eyes should preferably be at the level of the television screen.
Do not sit too close to your television set. Take care to sit a considerable distance from the screen. It is easier for your eyes to focus on the images that flash across your TV screen. It is also less harmful for your eyes. The ideal distance from your TV set is around five feet or more.
The room in which your television or computer is should be properly lit. Watching television or working on the computer in the dark unnecessarily strains your eyes. Make sure to always turn on a lamp or overhead light.
In the ideal condition, the light source should be behind you placed in such a way that the glare does not reflect on the screen.
Try to blink deliberately while working on the computer. When you work on the computer there is an increased tendency to stare unblinkingly at the monitor. This especially true if you are playing an exciting game. In such cases you should make a conscious effort to blink your eyes. If you do not blink your eyes, they will become dry, they will hurt and this will ultimately precipitate as a headache. It is when you blink that your eyelids wash your eyeballs with the tear secretions. Your eyeballs must be moist always so remember to blink your eyes even if you are deeply engrossed in something interesting.
Breathing exercises help you breathe better and release the toxins in your brain. The human body takes in a lot of toxic substances, both through the air and through food and drink. Apart from this, various toxins are also released in the body as a result of the various processes that are going on. These toxins have to be released on a continuous basis or else they will accumulate in the body with serious results. One of the best ways of releasing these toxins is by means of exhaling while breathing. One funny fact is that most of do not breathe properly. Just take a look at the picture like this. With each breath that we take, we take in oxygen. This oxygen is carried by the blood to every cell of the body and every cell must indeed get enough oxygen not just to survive but to remain healthy as well. So it is imperative that we make an honest attempt to breathe properly. But first of course we have to make sure that we are breathing in unpolluted air. The time best for breathing exercises is early in the morning when the air is comparatively unpolluted. Now what you have to do is this. Again, sit comfortably so that there is no strain to any part of your body. It is not imperative that you close your eyes, but I have always noticed that the exercise works better when the eyes are closed.
When you are ready, what you have to do is to breathe in deeply and slowly, and feel the fresh air filling up your lungs until it just can’t take any more. Conjure up images of the air encircling throughout your body and reaching every cell, literally bathing it with oxygen. Of course it doesn’t happen that way but the image helps a lot. Then hold your breath for a few seconds and then very slowly exhale letting out all that foul air.
Again conjure up an image of all the toxins being released from your body. Every cell has become free of the burden it was carrying. Now pause for a second or two and again breathe in deeply, slowly letting your lungs fill up with all that good, clean, rejuvenating air. Repeat this exercise at least ten times and take your time for it taking care not to rush through.
When you have done that part of the exercise it is time for the second part. Again sit with your eyes closed, but this time, keep one nostril closed with the help of your index finger. It is best to close the right nostril first and that too with your right index finger. Now breathe in deeply and slowly through your left nostril keeping the right nostril closed. When you have held air for a second or two, release your right nostril and breathe out through it.
While you are breathing out conjure up an image of all the toxins being released form your head and the brain especially. And as you breathe in conjure up images of the clean air circulating though out your brain freeing it of all the worries and trouble and lightening it.
Repeat this exercise with the other nostril closed and in this way alternate between the nostrils at least ten times. The entire breathing exercise need not take more than ten minutes.
Use a pillow that is not too thick to rest your head. If the pillow that you are using is too thick, you will be straining you neck muscles when you are asleep. If the neck muscles are taught for too long, they will become stiff and this often precipitates as a headache.
Find out if you have any allergies. Allergies can cause headaches. Some of us are allergic to specific substances and these substances can trigger off a headache. It may be certain odors or it might be a certain flavors. Each time you get a headache just try and find out what triggered it.
Dry your head well after a shower. It is best to use a towel for this. The problem with water is that it can seep in through the scalp of your head and if you leave your head damp, the moisture can seep in result in a headache.
Do not blow dry your hair as far as possible. Dryers are not a very good idea. The heat from the dryer is actually bad for your head. Go easy on driers and if at all you must use a dryer, use it only if you have long hair. Never use it to blow dry the short hair on your head.
If you must blow dry your hair, keep the blow drier well away from your head. Not only is the heat bad for your head, but the drone of the drier can also induce a headache.
If you have to go out in the sun, protect your head using a hat or a cap. The sun has many benefits as far as health is concerned, but if you expose yourself directly to the sun, you are likely to end up with a headache. The heat from the sun can bring about vascular changes and alter the delicate balance of the various fluids inside the brain. This in all likelihood will precipitate as a whale of a headache. That is why it is imperative that you protect your head with a cap or a hat when you have to go out in the sun.
Stay away from rain – especially the first shower of the season. It is not good to let the rain fall directly on your head. Rain water may be refreshing but in can result in a headache. If you get wet in the rain, make it a point to dry your head as soon as you can.
The first rains especially are very bad because the water will contain a lot of pollutants and this itself can result in a lot of diseases.
Avoid inhaling polluting gases like automobile fumes and second-hand smoking. Many of the gases let out by automobiles and other exhaust pipes are highly toxic and they itself can cause a headache. Second hand smoking by which you inhale the smoke from your neighbor’s cigarette too can cause a headache. This is especially true if you are a non-smoker and not used to the smell smoke.
Do not wear a hair-do in which your hair is tied up too tightly. Some people especially women tie up their hair in very tight buns or brainds. If your hair is pulled back too tightly it is going to hurt your scalp and the end result is that you will get a headache.
Try to keep your mind free from worries. Listening to music or taking a nap is a good way to clear the mind.
If you feel stressed up, try to relax. Scented candles, warm bathes, and soothing music may help you relax.
Try to get a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep is very important to keep away headaches.
“Sleep is one of the most basic and universal activities in which we all engage. Yet, getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking refreshed can be highly elusive to most of us some of the time, and many of us all of the time.”
The National Sleep Foundation reports (2002) that America is on the verge of a poor sleep epidemic, characterized by the following eye-opening statistics: 64% of American adults get less than the eight hours of sleep that experts recommend is required to maintain optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. One-third of the US population says they get less sleep now than they did five years ago One-half of Americans have experienced insomnia (sleeplessness) Drowsiness due to a lack of a proper night of sleep interferes with the daily activities of 37 percent of all adults. You need peace and quiet to get enough sleep and so you should take care to see that there are no physical disturbances. Turn the ring tone of your telephone to the lowest possible volume. Do not worry about important calls; if the calls are so important, then the caller will call back later when you have turned up the volume. Try to cut out other disturbances by wearing ear muffs or eye blinds. Do not read in bed before you sleep, in all likelihood you will drift off to sleep with the lights on and after sometime the same light will wake you up.
Do not oversleep. Oversleeping is just as bad as not getting enough sleep. If you sleep too much or for too long, you will wake up with a very woozy feeling and that will most likely turn into a headache. Our body tells us when it has had enough sleep. Listen to the cue and get up, do not succumb to the temptation to just lie in bed.
Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that this is the requirement for most healthy adults. Examine your daily schedule to see how you can rearrange your day to ensure the right amount of sleep. Try to cut out television and other non-necessary activities.
Stay away from sedatives. Sedatives are not a solution to your sleep problems. Many of them are addictive and their medicine will eventually stop working for you.
Sedatives also affect the time that you wake up. You might get a good night’s sleep when you take sedatives, but the chances are rare that you will wake up refreshed.
Each time you get a headache do not reach for your aspirin. Some headaches go by themselves. Do not make you body dependent on aspirin.
Try massaging your temples. Massaging your temples gently stimulates the circulation of blood and relaxes the muscles of the forehead and temples. This itself soothes a person and provide relief from a headache.
Touch therapy is a new technique that is just becoming available to cure headaches. A lot of research is going on this area and even now experts have not been able to identify how touch therapy can help in healing. The best possible explanation is that our bodies are in fact tuned to respond to the touches of others. When we were babies our mother’s touch was perhaps the most reassuring thing in the world. In fact experts are baffled by the way new born babies are able to distinguish between a mother’s touch and the touch of a stranger.
As we grow older we delight in the encouraging pats and caresses of our parents and teachers. Even in our social life there is a lot of touching going on. That is probably why people use the hand shake as an exchange of warmth. So when a person is ill and miserable, the touch of another person especially if it is a person who really cares for you can relieve you of your pain. The only thing that the person has to do is to be gentle. He or she should stop when the patient has had enough.
Try massaging certain key points of your body like the nape of your neck, the shoulder and neck muscles and the muscles at the web between your thumb and the rest of your fingers.
The entire nervous system, the blood vessels, the skeletal and muscular systems are all interconnected. So if you can identify certain nodal points of the body and apply the right pressure there, you can indeed get relief from a headache. This is the basic philosophy of the principle of acupressure. Just be careful to apply the right amount of pressure.
Do not wash your head in hot water. It can trigger off a lot of vascular changes that can do more harm than good. So though a hot bath may be stimulating to your body it is not the best thing that you can give your head. Take a steam bath if you want to but try to keep your head above the steamy fumes. Cold water is best for your head so keep it that way. And mind you, by cold water we are not referring to chilled water.
Heady fragrances of some perfumes and room fresheners can give you a headache. This need not be something that you have used on your own body. It can be a perfume that your neighbor has used. So if you sit next to person and feel that your head it getting woozy, try to move to a safe distance.
Incense smoke is not good for you. Incense smoke contains a lot of alkaloids and the inhalation of these can spark of a lot of changes in the internal mechanism, do not take the risk.
Too much noise is bad for you. In fact sound pollution is one of the causes for headaches to become so prevalent. Contrary to popular belief, sound pollution is not cause just by machines and automobiles. I do not want to argue with the fact that machines and automobiles cause a lot of sound. A journey down the street during the rush hour is enough to give any body a headache. But apart from that blaring music too does a lot of harm.
Take care to lower the volume if you want to listen to music. Loud music is not really good for you. And if you want to play music in order to soothe your nerves and instead you are playing loud music, it will have just the opposite effect. Your blood pressure will actually go up and your adrenalin levels too will increase. The best thing that you can do is stay away from all sources of loud noise and that includes noisy kids as well.
Plug your ears if you are moving into a loud sound zone. Use ear plugs, ear muffs or thick wads of cotton. Most grocery stores and convenience stores carry sound-reducing and sound-blocking earplugs, many of which are not too noticeable.
Try steam inhalation. This is especially true for those who have a sinus problem. Steam inhalation is an excellent way of clearing all the spaces inside. If you have an infection too, a steam inhalation can be very soothing. But there is a word of caution that I have to offer here.
Be very careful about you eyes. Remember that it is not advisable to expose your eyes to steam and so take care to protect your eyes when you are inhaling steam. Another thing that you should be careful about is the temperature of the steam. You just need fairly hot water and not scorching hot, sizzling vapors of water. The object is not to scald your skin but to send some warm vapors up your nose. In fact steam inhalation is one of the most recommended therapies for people who get sinus related headache.
The point that you should bear in mind is that the sooner you inhale once you get the headache, the better. If you wait for long hours before you inhale, you are going to have to inhale longer and at shorter intervals for the inhalation to have any effect on the headache.
Menthol vapors too can be of some relief. Menthol vapors too can help towards clearing your sinuses. Try dissolving a balm or ointment in the hot water that has to be inhaled. Then inhale the vapors. This is the best way of inhaling menthol vapors.
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