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Posted on 06-21-2012

Good morning Redding! Did you know more than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic, reoccurring headaches each year according to the National Headache Foundation. Of those 45 million, approximately 28 million suffer from regular migraines.

I have found the majority of headache complaints we see in the office tend to be caused from tension. Aside from tension headaches, patients may suffer from migraines and sinus headaches among others. Tension headaches, otherwise known as cervicogenic headaches come from the base of the skull and can extend to the temples, one or both eyes, and/or the forehead.

What Triggers a Headache
Headaches can be triggered by many different things and are largely based on the individual. Stress is one of the most common triggers for headaches, along with hormones and various other situations.

Managing your stress, one of the pillars for health, is essential for overall health and wellbeing. If you don’t get a hold of your stress, your body reacts in many ways including painful and reoccurring headaches.

Types of Headaches
While one person might experience debilitating migraines on a regular basis, another person might have tension headaches. Here are the three most common headaches:

  1. Tension – Many people hold tension around their shoulders and back of the neck causing severe muscle contraction. At the end of the day, when all of the tension is released and the blood starts to flow back to your muscles, you experience a tension headache. Usually, people describe them as a band around the head—from the forehead to the back of the head. More men than women tend to experience tension headaches.

  2. Migraine – Most of the time sufferers of migraines are able to tell when the headache is coming based on neurological changes. They might experience an aura that causes visual, sensory, motor or verbal disturbance. These are usually the most severe headaches and are isolated to one side of the head. More women than men experience migraines.

  3. Sinus – Sinus headaches are oftentimes due to allergies or a cold and the congestion and pressure from those illnesses. These headaches will occur around the cheekbones, forehead or bridge of the nose.

Relieving a Headache
When it comes to migraine headaches, prevention is key. There are drugs available that may be prescribed by your doctor if you experience frequent migraines. Tension headaches can be alleviated with over-the-counter drugs or a few natural treatments such as maintaining a lower stress level or Chiropractic care has been shown to be VERY effective, or acupuncture.

Exercise can not only help manage stress levels, but in the long run could help relieve headache symptoms. Some say that exercise triggers their headaches but the more they exercise and stay active, the less the headaches occur.

One day I had a patient come in who had been to Stanford as well as the Mayo clinic for his headaches.  He was not able to go into the military due to them!  After his first 3 visits for Chiropractic care his headaches had all but disappeared!  And I'm glad to report he has been excepted into the U.S. Marine Corp!

When to See a Physician
Rarely should a physician be seen for headaches.  Frankly there is no headache caused by a LACK of medication so we know when meds help it is temporary and not FIXING the problem.If headaches are affecting your everyday life and routine, always see your physician. Any time you experience the aura or neurological symptoms, contact your physician. This also goes if you lose consciousness or receive what’s called a thunder-clap headache. Thunder-clap headaches occur out of the blue as an acute, extremely painful headache, in which case you should go to the emergency room.

Another time to see a physician is when you have cyclical headaches that are debilitating to your life. For example, if a woman experiences an unbearable headache each month with her menstrual cycle that interferes with her daily activities, she should seek out advice from a physician.

It’s important to work on managing your stress levels to help alleviate headaches. Try exercising, mediation, Chiropractic or a change in diet to reduce the number of headaches you experience.

Have a blessed day!

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