Headaches are a common complaint heard by doctors daily. People of all ages get headaches and there are many causes of head pain. Headache pain may be mild or excruciating, and may occur rarely, or as often as once a day.
Stress is a common cause of tension headaches. Work stress, family stress and even physical stress from over exertion, such as shoveling snow when you haven’t done it for a while can cause a tension headache. Chemical stress from artificial sweeteners, food additives, polluted air and water can also cause headaches. Whenever your body has to deal with any type of stress, either physical or chemical, it taxes your nervous system and may cause a headache. The best way to avoid these types of headaches is to make sure you exercise regularly, drink good, pure water and eat a healthy diet. Too many packaged foods you find in the grocery store these days contain a lot of chemicals, so be sure to read the food labels. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it. You can’t always avoid all the toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis, but try to minimize them whenever you can.
Migraine headache pain is one of the most intense types of pain a person can experience. Migraines may have multiple causes as well. Food allergies — such as allergies to wheat and gluten, hormonal fluctuations, and even bright light can trigger a migraine headache for some. If you suffer from chronic migraines, you might want to keep a food diary to track what you’re eating on a daily basis to see if you can pinpoint the culprit. If you discover you often get a migraine after eating a specific food, try eliminating that food from your diet to see if your headaches improve. Another common cause of migraine headaches is hormonal imbalances. If you are a female of any age, and you experience migraines, you may want to have your hormone levels checked by a physician to see if you need to have your levels of estrogen and progesterone adjusted.
Cervicogenic headaches are headaches that originate in your neck. A problem with the bones in your neck or “cervical spine” and surrounding muscles can cause headaches for some. People who suffer from these types of headaches will often complain of having neck pain with a decreased range of motion when turning their head from side to side. Cervicogenic headaches can stem from previous injuries to the spine such as whiplash, or from prolonged flexion of the neck muscles (looking down), and from sleeping on a pillow that is not the right size for your neck. Massage and chiropractic care can help release tense neck muscles and realign the cervical vertebrae to help prevent these types of headaches.
If you are having headache pain, especially pain that is chronic or is getting worse, you need to find out the cause of your pain so that you can alleviate it. Taking pain relievers may help in the short term, but finding and fixing the cause of your headaches is the best solution for long term relief.
By Kathleen Belmont