Headaches: Reasons and Relief.

15 September 2015
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Headaches: Reasons and Relief.

Adults who suffer from severe headaches and migraines say that they grew up with headaches throughout childhood.  Catching, treating, and preventing headaches in children can lead to life filled with significantly more pain-free days.

According to the National Headache Foundation, the most common headache in children is a tension headache, which starts in the neck and wraps around the head.

75% of children will get headaches before the age of 15, with girls being more affected than boys. The numbers are continuing to rise due to our American lifestyle. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2526375/

 The main cause, you ask?  Our guess: Technology. Texting, using the iPad, hand held video games, anything keeping the child looking down. Even sitting and completing hours of homework can cause tension in the neck. We need to break this habit (in ourselves as well as our children).  Introduce a book stand for homework and reading, even the iPad will work on this.  Try to limit your time on the phone or other device and pay attention to your posture while on it.

Move!  Get outside.  Play with your kids, stimulate their brains, and stimulate your brain!  Engage the core muscles. Strong core muscles mean a strong back. Stand up every 20-30 minutes of sitting at work (or doing homework), sit on a yoga ball instead of an office chair, and exercise regularly, adding more core exercises into your workout.

Headaches can be divided into two categories: Primary and secondary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease or illness and are rare.

Primary Headaches include:

  • Cluster Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Tension Headaches
  • Persistent Daily Headaches
  • Cough Headaches
  • Exercise Headaches
  • Sex Headaches

Possible Lifestyle Triggers:

  • Alcohol
  • Processed Foods
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Skipped meals
  • Stress
  • Dehydration

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/headache/basics/causes/sym-20050800

Persistent daily headaches are NOT normal.  Treating the headache is just masking a symptom.  The thyroid, Vitamin D, and adrenal glands all can cause headaches and are generally overlooked in the mainstream population.  The thyroid aids in brain development, secretes hormones, regulates your temperature, and helps with metabolism. Vitamin D is important for bones, muscles, and the brain.  It is also helpful in preventing cancer, autoimmune diseases, and hypothyroid.  Having lab work done to know your numbers is helpful in supplementing yourself correctly.

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The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for producing cortisol and sex hormones.  Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone,” and is responsible for regulating the body during stages of increased stress in life.  We tend to always be in a high state of stress.  That means our cortisol is always high and does not come down as it should. Again, lab work should be done to know exact levels.

While most people tend to categorize their headaches as sinus pressure or a sinus headache, this is actually not accurate and very uncommon. Roger Cady and Curtis Schneider of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Mo., have shown that nearly 98 percent of people who believed they had sinus headaches were actually experiencing a migraine.  So instead of blaming your sinuses, start a headache log and document foods you are eating, strong scents, exercise, and daily lifestyle.  You may be able to find your body’s trigger.

Brain tissue does not feel pain the same way skin and other organs do.  The brain is encased in a hard, protective covering and it does not respond to touch or pressure sensations. Headaches occur because of activation or irritation of structures that do sense pain: skin, bone or neck joints, blood vessels or muscles. Headaches occur in response to exposure to internal or external triggers, such as hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fasting or stress. Exposure to these triggers prompts the brain to signal pain centers that produce a variety of chemical messengers, including serotonin and norepinephrine, which cause expansion of meningeal blood vessels surrounding the brain. This expansion results in increased blood flow, and blood vessels on the side of the head can become more prominent and tender. As the blood vessels swell they stretch the nerves that surround them, causing these nerves to send signals to the trigeminal system, an area of the brain that relays pain messages for the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal system most commonly causes pain around the eye and cheek, creating the false perception of “sinus” pain. The trigeminal system also sends messages to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in food cravings, and to the upper part of the cervical spinal cord, which may result in muscle spasms in the neck.  (Source: Cephalagia: An International Journal of Headache)

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Ways to help headaches:

Yoga: It is important to start practicing as soon as possible after you start to feel the pain.  Imagine your brain shrinking with each pose.  Yoga promotes blood flow and relaxation, helping the body to align and alleviate the pain.

Exercise: Increase in exercise will aid in digestion and help with improved sleep.  Nabih Ramadan, MD, a neurologist at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, and chair of the National Headache Foundation (NHF) Education and Biomedical Research Committee states that regular exercise at least three times a week can lessen the frequency of headaches. A study based on surveys from over 69,000 people in Norway, found that sedentary adults had a higher risk of headaches than their more active counterparts. Likewise, the researchers noted that study participants who reported more frequent headaches were the least likely to be physically active.

Remember that a strong core means a strong back. A strong back leads to strong, correct posture. Make sure you include strength exercises for your core.

Pressure points: Acupressure can relieve pain and rebalance the body quickly.

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Points to try:

  • The inside of your eyebrow, just above the bridge of your nose.
  • The temples: gentle massaging motion
  • The base of the skull: Tilt your head back and press upward in a circular motion
  • Between the thumb and index finger: Pinch the area and massage
  • Between the big and second toes: move one inch forward and press down

Source: http://www.naturalblaze.com/2013/05/6-ways-to-relieve-headaches-with.html

Magnesium: According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly half of the people suffering from migraine headaches show to have a low amount of ionized magnesium in their blood.  A great way to add magnesium to the body is topically, through the skin.  Magnesium oil used regularly can help the frequency of headaches.  Remember that magnesium needs calcium to do its job.

Two studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium may reduce the frequency of headaches.  Magnesium levels affect serotonin receptors and have an effect on nitric oxide synthesis and release, as well as on NMDA receptors all brain structures and chemicals suspected to important in the formation of a migraine. www.thedailyheadache.com

Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care helps with headaches and balances all three nervous systems.  A study from 2001 found chiropractic care resulted in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache. Aligning the body and correcting the posture can help alleviate frequent headaches and the severity of headaches. http://www.chiro.org/LINKS/FULL/Behavioral_and_Physical_Treatments_for_Headache.html

Gluten free: Diet plays a huge role in triggering a headache. A study published in BMC Medicine discovered that gluten sensitive individuals are at a higher risk of headaches.  Frequent headaches can be eliminated by a simple change in one’s diet.  ( www.migraine.com )  Cut out processed foods as well as gluten.  Preservatives such as nitrites are linked to migraines.

Hydration: Water makes up 70% of the human body and 80% of the brain. It is a very powerful nutrient. When it is lacking, you can expect to suffer a wide range of health ailments. Headaches are one of the most common illnesses associated with dehydration.  Carry water with you and remember to drink often. http://www.newsmax.com/health/Dr-Brownstein/headache-arthritis-dehydration-water/2014/02/06/id/551303/