Headache

headache man

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of headache

The fast-paced competitive world we inhabit is constantly injecting few of its invincible poisons within us. The primary predator of present day’s population is “headache”. The most threatening part about headaches is that they barely attack with prior warning. Although some signals are perceived at the early stage, patients seldom predict the devastating outcomes. This is the reason headaches receive negligible attention as compared to other pathological disorders. Studies reveal that about 75% of the population within the age bracket 18-65 suffer from headaches. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a staggering percentage (nearly 30%) of this headache affected population suffers from migraine.

 

Why do we have headaches?

Headache stressThere are few portions of the brain like Meningeal arteries, areas located close to cerebral arteries and dura (at the root of the brain) which are prone to pain-sensation.

Overactivation of these areas due to stress or environmental issues causes headaches. An anomalous flow of Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) causes a dearth of supply in few parts of the brain and excessive supply in few others.

This abnormal clinical condition gives rise to headaches.

 

The common misconception

Quite often, headache is just a manifestation of the disrupted functioning of some other region of the Central Nervous System (CNS). For instance, a person is originally having some problem in the lower neck. But he is feeling pain in his head. So he calls it a “headache”. This kind of misinterpretation arises due to the convergence of neurons arising from the source of pain at an area close to the point of manifestation of pain. Therefore when the signal is relayed, its interpretation zone becomes a point away from the source, located within the range of transmission of the generated pain signal. This aspect should be taken care of since it might result in misdiagnosis due to an error in detection of the source of pain.

 

Different types of headaches

Headaches have separate categories and it becomes very critical to correctly identify the type of a headache one is suffering from. The most commonly confronted kind of headaches are – Migraines, Cluster Headaches, Tension Type headaches. They are also called “primary headaches”. A detailed discussion of these types will reveal some unknown and shocking facts related to headaches.

 

Migraine

headache manThe most undesirable and disastrous form of headache is “Migraine”. It not only jeopardizes the normal functions of the body, but also incapacitates the patient to recuperate within a short span.

Migraine usually starts with nausea followed by vomiting in certain cases. But it is not until the patient develops an extreme irritation towards light and sound, that the symptoms are mapped accurately with that of Migraine. There are several factors that stimulate Migraine, the most important being stress exceeding threshold limit, exposure to climatic variations, an abrupt change in diet pattern, disturbed sleep-wake periods, exposure to very bright light and noisy environment. Sometimes obnoxious odors and certain drugs might be the secondary cause behind Migraines. Typically a Migraine attack lasts for 6 to 48 hours. Preventing Migraine outbursts involves strict adherence to the following rules –

  • Increased consumption of protein-rich food
  • Maintaining a regular sleep-wake pattern
  • Refraining from addictive acts like smoking and drinking
  • Regular exercise to maintain proper blood circulation

Treatment: For initial and less critical stages, acupuncture techniques, therapeutic relaxation and artificial stimulation prove to be effective. But for more severe cases, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) combined with triptans and other analgesics are the indisputable medications.

 

Cluster headaches (CH)

Cluster headaches are not as protracted as that of migraines but are more painful. As the name suggests, cluster headaches are “clustered” or “accumulated” at a particular portion of the head, especially in the vicinity of the eyes. There is a very misleading symptom of this type of headaches that makes people mistake cluster headaches for seasonal allergies or mundane stress.

This happens because cluster headaches occur at a particular time of the year, to be more specific, during some particular season. The foremost cause behind cluster headaches is the hyperactivity of a specific cluster of nerves, causing increased stimulation at the bottom of the brain. The hypothalamus triggers this signal that severely impacts the sleep cycle and henceforth disrupts the biological clock. The intensity of Cluster headaches becomes maximum within 7-10 minutes. A more acute case of Cluster Headaches is the Chronic Cluster Headache, where one specific eye becomes the target every time, and excruciating pain occurs on one side of the face.

Treatment: Considering its severity, it is advisable to avoid Cluster Headaches completely by compelling oneself to a regularized sleep cycle. Coming to the cure for Cluster Headaches, Sumatriptan Subcutaneous and Sumatriptan Intranasal is typically recommended. But for patients suffering from cardiovascular disorders, Sumatriptan is strictly forbidden. Instead, Octreotide SC is proposed for those patients. A careful selection of medicines is necessary as many of these drugs cause side effects like nausea, fatigue, and digestive disorders.

 

Tension-Type Headaches (TTH)

Given the increasing stress every individual is subjected to in today’s times, it is not very surprising that Tension-Type Headaches dominate to the extent of 30-70 %.

This category of headaches manifests themselves mostly in the cervices or bifrontal lobes. The less throbbing nature of this headache in the initial stage makes people overlook it and carry on with their “stressful” jobs without interruptions. It is this negligence that costs the patients a lot because the effect of TTH becomes more pronounced during their relaxation periods.  During this time, the headache becomes so severe that it might protract to take the form of a migraine or a cluster headache.

TTH is further classified into episodic TTH and chronic TTH. Patients suffering from Tension Type Headaches often experience muscle contractions in the head and neck portions. The most benign remedy for Tension-Type Headaches is abstaining from alcohol, excessive emotional stress, overstraining eyes and erroneous body postures.

Treatment: Patients often resort to excessive pain medications like Ibuprofen or Aspirin to get a quick relief. But considering their detrimental effects, frequent intake of these medicines should be avoided. Also, constant use of these medications can make the body resistant to these drugs. To avoid such situations, doctors prescribe Indomethacin, Ketorolac or Naproxen.

 

Apart from the three main categories of headaches, two other categories have been identified- Thunderclap Headache and Rebound Headache.

 

Thunderclap headaches

These occur as sudden a surge of pulsation and persist for a very short span. These are less painful than the other types. But the dismal fact about Thunderclap Headaches is that they bode very severe pathological conditions like brain hemorrhage. So in case of thunderclap headaches, it is mandatory that the patient undergoes a CT scan in order to avoid severe dangers in future.

 

Rebound headaches

As the name implies, these types of headaches occur from repetitive use of some medicines to relief headache of any intensity. This is also called “Medication-Overuse Headache” (MOH). It falls under the category of secondary headaches and affects less than 5% of the population. It can be easily avoided by reducing the excessive intake of few medicines like aspirin, ergotamine, and triptans.

 

Current research on headaches

The alarming rise in the number of patients suffering from headaches has spurred research workers around the world to find some means of alleviation.

Recent research reveals an aspect of headaches that is closely related to Rapid Eye Movement (REM). The fraction of time between REM and sleep-wake periods of an individual appears to be one of the major contributing factors behind headaches of permanent nature. Patients belonging to this category might suffer from Apnea (breathlessness during sleep) and at a later stage might develop “Hypnic” headaches. In this condition, the patient wakes up suddenly in the middle of  his sleep irrespective of the time of the day.

Coming to more specific factors that trigger migraine, scientists have discovered that one particular molecule named Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide (CGRP) plays an active role in migraine by releasing an excessive amount of inflammatory substance from mast cells that causes swelling of blood vessels within and outside the brain. The combined effects of these stimulate the pain sensitive receptors of the nerve endings, also called nociceptors. Research is also being conducted to investigate the role of CGRP in triggering photophobia.

An interesting chapter has come to light during the extensive research on headaches. A study by University of Mississippi research workers shows that HIV / AIDS victims tend to suffer more from migraine and other forms of headaches than normal people. Nearly 17-28% of the HIV patients have evinced signs of chronic migraine, while only 2% of the general population have shown similar symptoms.

 

Is there any genetic tie?

Through research has been done to find out any genetic connections pertaining to chronic headaches. It has been found that in most cases patients suffering from migraine have at least one member in their family having the same disease. These patterns have been traced to few specific gene locations, wherein certain genes have close association with rare forms of migraine. So far two Familial Hemiplegic Migraine (FHM) genes have been identified. The first one is the CACNA1A and the second one is the FHM2 that is mapped to chromosomes 1q 21-23. The rare kind of mutation has resulted in the altered nature of these genes that makes them a major contributor behind genetic migraines.

 

Why is headache becoming a socio-economic issue?

The World Health Organization has organized several global campaigns against headaches and has identified the following formidable socio-economic barriers that are coming in the way of eliminating the problem of headaches permanently –

  • Since headaches are more prominent among the “productive” age bracket 18-50, huge costs will be incurred due to reduced working hours and an abrupt drop in productivity will occur.
  • Medical expenses are on a constant rise alongside an increase in the extent of headaches and a subsequent rise in the number of patients.
  • People have more tendency towards excessive medication and quick remedies than towards a thorough diagnosis to identify the root cause.
  • Seriousness and criticality of headaches is least realized by a large percentage of patients and their families. Hence headaches do not receive the required medication or attention.
  • In rural areas, there is a stark lack of knowledge and proper education related to headaches and associated illnesses. Hence patients seeking medical aids are not substantially benefitted.

 

Treatment & Prevention

  • Headache reliefMedication– The pain-relieving medications include aspirin and ibuprofen and other categories of drugs like triptans and ergots. Medications might have severe side effects; so they should be taken only after consulting a registered medical practitioner.
  • Stress management and adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential in order to prevent headaches and their associated symptoms.
  • Practice relaxation techniques– These help you to repair the toll that stress takes on your mind and body. Common relaxation techniques are meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi, mindful breathing etc.
  • Regular physical activity- Follow an exercise routine. Regular physical activity is essential for reducing stress and improving the sleep pattern. It also helps to keep the blood pressure under control and maintaining a healthy body weight. Moderate aerobic activity on a regular basis can help to keep you energized throughout the day. It stimulates the brain to release chemicals known as endorphins. These chemicals help in reducing the perception of stress and pain and trigger positivity.

 

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Control your stress levels. Stress should be controlled by techniques such as biofeedback, meditation, yoga, acupuncture etc. Identify your stressors and eliminate them.
  • Consume fresh foodstuffs and avoid skipping meals.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Go for regular exercise.
  • Seek medical care if you observe symptoms such as neck stiffness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, confusion, fainting etc.
Don'ts
  • Consume caffeine in excess. Caffeine is found in drinks like coffee, tea, and soda.
  • Let dehydration settle in. On an average amount of water intake per day should be around eight 8-ounce glasses.

 

 

 

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Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Is it possible to achieve full body detox with Master Cleanse? Master cleanse is a diet consisting of a lemonade based beverage, a salt water drink and a herbal…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Miracle extract from the root of maca: 10 ways it can help you! Maca root has been used for years in herbal medicine. Today scientific research is unearthing fresh evidence in…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
ASTtest-liver
AST- Aspartate Aminotransferase Test AST test is a blood test that is used to measure the level of a particular liver enzyme…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
rosacea-treatment--before-_-after
The best and safest ways to treat rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that is characterized by reddish hives and rashes on the face. Read more…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find a list of…
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…

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