Did you know there were two types of headaches? Well, according to the Mayo Clinic there are primary headaches and secondary headaches.
A primary headache is caused by problems with an over activity of pain-sensitive structures in the physical head itself. The primary headache isn't just a symptom of some underlying disease, it is the thing itself. Chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels outside your skull or the muscles of your head and neck play a significant role in primary headaches. The most common primary headaches are: Tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, and migraine.
Though less common, there are other headache patterns that are considered primary headache and these have distinct features such as an unusual duration or headache pain that is associated with certain activities. And, while these are normally considered primary, each of them could also be a symptom of an underlying disease. They include: chronic daily headaches, cough headaches, exercise headaches and headaches related to sexual activity.
Additionally, a number of primary headaches are triggered by lifestyle factors, including: alcohol, particularly red wine, certain foods, such as processed meats that contain nitrates, changes in sleep patterns, poor posture, missing meals and, of course, stress.
Unlike the more common primary headaches, a secondary headache is a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number of conditions from the sudden and temporary pain while eating ice cream to fast, to an ear infection may cause secondary headaches.
When to see a doctor or seek out emergency care?
A headache can be a symptom of a serious condition, such as a stroke, meningitis or encephalitis. Go to a hospital emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number if you have the worst headache of your life, a sudden, severe headache or a headache accompanied by:
Fainting, High fever, greater than 102 F to 104 F (39 C to 40 C), confusion or trouble understanding speech, numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of your body, a stiff neck, trouble seeing, speaking or walking, nausea or vomiting (if not clearly related to a cold, flu or a hangover).
Traditional headache specialists started recommending alternative therapies for migraine sufferers. Even the best medication we have doesn't work for one-third of them and pain medications can even be the cause of continued headaches.
Many consumers have turned to natural remedies for help in preventing further migraines and minimizing them when they do hit. Supporting clinical evidence has demonstrated that a number of vitamin supplements have been found to be effective in headache treatment convincing some specialist that they are at least worth a try - especially since they come with a low to zero risk of the severe side effects warned against on just about all of the drug remedies available.
I recommend that you always discuss your treatment with a doctor, preferably one who is at least adequately educated in nutrition and alternative medicine - though many are not. Find one that is.
Here are some natural headache remedies:
Feverfew and ginger: an herb with a good history of use for successful migraine treatment.
Butterbur: an anti-inflammatory herb which may not be effective once an acute migraine has started, but may help prevent it. 75 milligrams twice a day is the recommended dosage.
Magnesium: when magnesium is taken daily and in sufficient dosage, it can help to reduce the frequency of migraines. Magnesium helps to calm nerves during a migraine. Several studies have found that migraine sufferers tend to be deficient in magnesium. A headache or migraine sufferer may need more than a normal daily dose - speak to your (qualified) practitioner or nutritionist. You should also increase your magnesium by eating dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Studies have shown that having adequate vitamin B2 can reduce the frequency of migraines. One theory of migraines is that too many demands are being made on the body's nerve cells and there's not enough energy being produced to support the demands. Vitamin B12 (as well as magnesium) play an important roles in boosting energy production inside nerve cells.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more common throughout the U.S. as people spend more time avoiding the sun. Whether that is contributing to migraines is unknown, but studies have shown that vitamin D may play a role in the way a person perceives pain.
Once again, I suggest you consult a qualified practitioner or nutritionist to determine if you have deficiencies in these nutrients. Solving that may eliminate your headache difficulties.
All the best,