Headaches are a common ailment, which will have been experienced by most people at some point. In fact they’re so common that we often don’t give them the proper attention they deserve - we may ‘pop a pill’ or ‘sleep it off’. However, there are different types of headaches and therefore different reasons as to why they occur. It’s worth looking at the factors which may trigger a headache in order to treat it correctly. We give you a summary overview here in this article.
What is a Headache?
Very simply, a headache is a pain experienced in the head, which can manifest as a dull ache, a sharp pain or pulsating/throbbing. Symptoms tend to be:
● Pain or discomfort in the head and/or face
● Tenderness of the scalp
● Pressure in the head and/or behind the eyes
● Hypersensitivity to sound, light and temperature
What can cause a headache?
● Erratic eating patterns
● Food allergies or intolerances
● Eye and/or eyesight issues
● Muscle tension and/or tightness
● Injury to the back, neck, shoulders or head
● Poor/incorrect posture
● Lack of sleep
● Illness such as flu
● Hormone imbalances
● Overconsumption of alcohol or caffeine
These lists are illustrative and not exhaustive.
Different types of headaches
Tension - the most common type of headache, which feels like a tightening or a pressure around the head
Hormone - changes in hormone levels can trigger headaches and can be brought on by menstruation, contraception, pregnancy, menopause or HRT
Cluster - an intense head pain, usually experienced on one side of the head and/or face and eye. Not overly common. Tend to be experienced from middle age onwards. Come on suddenly and can last for several weeks. Can cause changes to the eye, such as redness, watering or swelling, as well as extreme agitation in a person. Cluster headaches have been linked to smoking and genetic predisposition. Seek medical advice as further investigation and stronger prescription medications will be required.
Migraine - moderate to intense head pain, often experienced alongside nausea and/or sickness, brain fog, increased sensitivity to light, sound and/or temperature. Can occur from teens onwards. Can last for hours to days. There are three different types of migraine, which include the previously mentioned symptoms and:
- Migraine with aura - head pain accompanied by the sight of colours or flashes of light
- Migraine without aura - head pain without colours or flashes of light
- Aura without the headache - colours or flashes of light are seen. No experience of head pain.
Seek medical advice as further investigation and stronger prescription medications will be required.
What to do?
Drink Water - try to drink at least 2 litres per day. Ensure you drink enough water to replace any lost through exercise and perspiration, or diuretic drinks, like tea and coffee
Medication - over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin. Cluster headaches and migraines will require medical guidance for medication.
Ergonomics - ensure you keep your body in neutral alignment wherever possible. Consider how your seating, standing and lying positions affect your posture - do you have the correct support for your body, particularly when sitting and sleeping? Do you work from home - does your workplace set need to be assessed?
Rest and De-stress - take some time to rest and recuperate, allowing the pain to subside
Light Exercise - stretches/yoga, walking or a massage to help alleviate any muscle tension or tightness
Avoid - any food or drink that triggers allergies or intolerances
Test - get regular eye tests
Alternative Therapies - both acupuncture and reflexology have been known to help alleviate pain and headache symptoms
Always seek medical advice prior to treatment and/or consult a pharmacist.
All of the below equipment is available from our Partner Providers, Physique at 10% discount.
Use a combination of the below to help relieve your symptoms as appropriate:
- Cold Therapy - a cold gel or cold pack can be used on the localised area to reduce any pain
- Heat Therapy - a heat lotion, gel or pack can be used on tight muscles around the neck, upper back and/or shoulders
- Painkillers - over the counter medicines like ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) and paracetamol (compound analgesic/painkiller) can help reduce pain and increase comfort in the short term and as a temporary measure. Speak with a medical professional such as a GP or Pharmacist for bespoke guidance.
- Physical Therapy - yoga, massage, acupuncture or reflexology can help alleviate causes and/or symptoms of headaches and migraines