Headaches are very common, and with the increasing prevalence in our population, it is important to understand more about them and why they occur. Recent studies made by the World Health Organization reported that 50% of the adult population suffers from headaches at least once a year, and from that group, 30% were reported as “migraine” headaches. Headaches are often described as pain in the head that can come with different symptoms and last from hours to days. Knowing what type of headache you have will allow you to deal with it better.
Two of the most common type of headaches are migraine and tension headaches. Migraines are described as a one-sided head pain with a pulsating nature that can last between 24 to 72 hours which affects more women than men. They can come with the so-called “aura” which cause visual disturbance before an episode occurs. During the time of the headaches common symptoms may include nausea and light sensitivity. Tension headaches, on the other hand, is the more common of the two, affecting 70% of the population suffering from headaches. It is described as pressure or band-like tightness around the head. They can last from several hours to several days. Tension headaches are usually stress related or due to musculoskeletal problems in the neck region.
Regardless of the type of headache, it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause, consider the following if you commonly have headaches:
- Food allergies: Research articles have found a link with certain food and headaches. With my experience as a physician, common foods that may cause headaches include: chocolate, peanut oil, caffeine, MSG and dairy products. It is recommended to do a food journal for an entire month, including what you ate but also any symptom or reaction you had in a day. This can extremely helpful to identify any particular foods that may cause your headaches but also for allergies that may lead to digestive issues.
- Lack of sleep: we start lacking sleep when we are too busy or under stress. Sleeping is a habit that our body needs to function at our optimal levels. It’s recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day to allow your nervous system to reset and perform at its best. When we become sleep deprived key proteins in our brain can trigger chronic pain and cause headaches. For those of you suffering from insomnia try drinking tea with chamomile an hour before bed to help relax your body and mind.
- Hormonal changes (for females): Commonly females can complain of headaches before or during their menstruation cycles. Prior to your period estrogen levels fall, which has been, linked to the cause headaches. A great way to deal with these headaches is to do meditation classes or yoga to allow your body to relax.
The traditional approach for headache relief is medication, but do not forget about chiropractic care! Several research articles have shown the efficacy of adjustments in the treatment of headaches. Adjusting your spine, relaxing your muscles, and reducing stress in the nervous system help balance your body and mind. Chiropractic allows the proper communication of your nervous system with your organs and brain causing a state of relaxation helping decrease the frequency of headaches. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic headaches, give us a call!
Don’t forget to watch “Tension Headaches”
Yours in health,
Dr. Adriana Huertas