holiday headaches

Getting a headache during the holidays is no cause for celebration. According to statistics from the National Headache Foundation, there are over 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic headaches. We’ve taken the three most common types, highlighted their symptoms, causes, and, most importantly, potential methods for relief.

Tension Headaches

Also known as stress headaches, tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Symptoms can vary, including everything from fatigue and sleep disorders to irritability, lack of focus and light sensitivity. For treatment, doctors will prescribe an over-the-counter or prescription strength pain reliever, a muscle relaxant, or in some cases an antidepressant. Be mindful however that medications may have side effects or lose effectiveness over time. In some cases, relaxation, hydration and stress management have also been shown to prevent tension headaches.

Sinus Headaches
When sinuses become inflamed either due to allergy or infection, the natural flow of mucous is impeded. This creates an intense and constant pain in the nose, cheekbones, and/or forehead. Sinus headaches are known to intensify with sudden head movements, or excessive straining of the face or head.

Other symptoms include nasal discharge, plugged ears, fever and swelling of the face. In order to officially attribute your sinuses as the cause of your headache, you need a doctor’s examination.

If an infection is present, antibiotics are often prescribed. In the case of sinus headaches caused by an allergy, preventive allergy therapy is the answer.

A simple home remedy involves applying a cold compress over the pain, and taking a nap in a darkened room. Other home remedies include inhaling steam infused with peppermint or eucalyptus oil, and eating chili peppers.

Migraines
The causes of migraines are not certain, although most doctors believe they are hereditary and related to blood vessel contractions. Studies also show that the majority of sufferers are women.

The pain of a migraine can range in severity, lasting anywhere from four hours to several days. Beginning as a dull ache, a migraine headache usually transforms into a sharper, more throbbing pain. This can be accompanied by sensitivity to light, noise and odor. Other symptoms include paleness, fatigue, dizziness, blurry vision, fever, loss of appetite, as well as several gastrointestinal issues.

What triggers a migraine? It depends on the individual. For some, the chemicals released in the brain during stress are enough. For others, food chemicals such as MSG and nitrates will do the trick.

Other potential triggers include a lack of caffeine or the excessive intake of it, fatigue, skipped meals, changes in sleep patterns, changes in weather, and menstruation. It’s also important to know that migraines may be the effect of other conditions such as asthma, hypertension, stroke, sleep disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The best suggestion for treating migraines is to discern the cause. Anytime a migraine headache is experienced, write down everything you ate and when you ate it, making note of your mental state and stress levels. Finding a pattern to your migraines will not only help your doctor diagnose and treat them, but it will also help you avoid further migraines.

For frequent headaches of any variety, it is imperative that you see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment, since they may be a sign of a more severe illness. A proactive approach is always the best choice when dealing with your health.

Thanks for reading!

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