Headaches are a really common phenomenon. They can be anywhere from mild to super painful, but they differ considerably from migraines. Typically, headache treatment and migraine treatment include anti-inflammatory and pain-killing medications. But the thing about headaches is, over 90% of the time they’re secondary. That means they’re actually a symptom of something else going on in your body. And if you know what’s causing the headache, you can treat the cause instead of the symptom. So, more often than not, if you know what type of headache you have, you can fix the issue that’s causing it without resorting to pharmaceuticals. But how do you tell what type of headache you have?
Common Types of Secondary Headaches
There are probably countless things that can result in a headache. Something as ephemeral as the weather changing or a really acrid smell can result in a headache. Here are some of the most common types of secondary headaches:
- Post-Traumatic Headaches: These are caused by some level of head injury. They can last up to a year and even become chronic, depending on the type of physical damage to the head occurred.
- Hypertension Headaches: These headaches are emergencies – not something you should try to deal with at home. They result from dangerously high blood pressure. Symptoms include a pulsating feeling that gets worse with activity. You may also have chest pain and nosebleeds. Once blood pressure is under control, the headaches should stop.
- Caffeine Headaches: Caffeine is a drug – plain and simple. It changes your brain chemistry as well as blood flow to the head. If you stop consuming caffeine suddenly, or you have too much, this can cause headaches.
- Sinus Headaches: These headaches occur when there is too much pressure in your sinuses. People usually feel pain or a pressure feeling in the front of their face. This can be caused by a sinus infection, a simple cold, or seasonal allergies. Sometimes migraines are misdiagnosed as allergy or sinus headaches if they’re chronic.
- Hormone Headaches: These tend to occur at certain times during a woman’s menstrual cycle, and can even develop into menstrual migraines that can start during teenage years.
- Exertion Headaches: These are usually short and harmless, and occur after physical exertion like exercise or sex. However, if they’re happening regularly and aren’t something you’ve experienced before, contact your doctor. They could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
- Rebound Headaches: These headaches are a lot like caffeine headaches, in that, your body is reacting to withdrawal. Though these are mostly caused by using OTC medications too regularly.
- Dehydration Headaches: Stay hydrated and you’ll never get one of these!
At-Home Headache Treatment: Try These Natural Remedies
Before you reach for your medicine cabinet to pop a couple ibuprofen, try some of these natural, at-home headache treatments. Often, mindful eating and sleeping schedules, and tweaking a few daily habits can help with many pesky ailments, not just headaches.
- Get regular exercise – it’s not just healthy for your heart – it can also help your brain deal better with pain responses. Regular exercise also improves sleep schedules, which can sometimes contribute to a headache.
- Try some herbs – clinical trials have actually been done on a few herbal remedies. Ginger is sometimes used for migraines because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Studies done on butterbur root have identified it as a safe and effective headache treatment.
- Be mindful – relaxation techniques and meditation can help reduce or manage stress levels.
- Limit stimuli – if you’ve already got a headache, going to lay down in a dark, quiet, cool room, often just for 30-60 minutes, can really help turn your day back around.
A couple other things to note: sometimes, headaches can be caused by mild food allergies you may not know about. Headaches can also be caused by low magnesium levels, which can be corrected with a supplement or dietary changes.
Professional Holistic Headache Treatments
There are also several alternative therapies for migraine and headache treatment that health and wellness centers like ours practice. With any ailment, comprehensive treatment is effective treatment. And believe it or not, sometimes a simple massage can make all the difference.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture deals with pressure points, and has demonstrated its safety and efficacy at relieving headache and migraine pain in the short term.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a natural therapy for many conditions, including ADHD in children. It teaches you how to control the response of different muscle groups to stimuli. Biofeedback is good for tension (stress) headaches.
- Massage: This is a similar idea to acupuncture, in that, massage and release at certain pressure points on the body can relieve and prevent headaches.
- Osteopathy: Often practiced by DOs or chiropractors, osteopathy for headache treatment is the manipulation of the bones and soft tissues in the face, head, neck and shoulders.
If you have chronic headaches but don’t want the risks of bodily damage that comes with taking OTC medications, give some of these holistic headache treatments a try!