Headache or head pain is a type of pain that arise in the head or in the upper part of the body. This type of pain may have its origin in the tissue or the system that covers the brain or skull because the human brain is devoid of any nerve that can produce a feeling of pain. There is a thin layer of tissue called periosteum that covers the muscles and bones of the skull, ears, sinuses, and eyes as well as that of the arteries, nerves, spinal cord, veins, etc. When these tissues become irritated or inflamed, a headache may occur.

The pain associated with a headache can be sharp, constant, intense, dull, throbbing, or even intermittent in nature. In the following sections, we take a look at the different types of headache, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and some effective home remedies that can help in countering the condition.  

Types of headache:

Headache-Types

The medical community has classified headache into three distinct categories, which are as follows.

  • Primary headache – Primary headache can be occasional as well as chronic and can be associated with symptoms. The major types of primary headaches are as follows.
  1. A migraine headache can be very common among adult women although prior to puberty, girls and boys may suffer from it in equal measure.
  2. Tension headache is one of the most common types of primary headache and as per a World Health Organization report, it affects one out of every twenty people.
  3. Cluster headache is a rare type of headache that can manifest more on men who are in their late 20s although women and children can also be susceptible to it.  
  • Secondary headache – A secondary headache can be associated with a basic fundamental or infectious condition in the head or neck. It can encompass a wide array of medical conditions and can include post-concussion headaches, traumatic headaches as well as headache due to substance abuse. A very typical form of secondary headache is ‘hangover.’ A person will experience the same upon waking up after consuming more alcohol.
  • Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches There are 12 cranial nerves that originate from the brain, and they help to convey sensory signals from and to the brain. When there is inflammation or irritation in either of them, a headache may occur. A very typical type of facial pain can be the trigeminal neuralgia that can affect the cranial nerve V.

Symptoms of headache:

The symptoms of headache can vary from type to type, and it may not be generic. A primary headache can be occasional and sporadic and may not last for long and can rarely be life-threatening. However, if there is a new headache or a headache is linked to sensation change, stiff neck, change in behaviour, vomiting, fever, weakness or blurred vision then there can be chances of infection developing in the body. Secondary headache can be primarily due to a prevailing illness or some type of injury. As an example, a sinus headache is a type of secondary headache that may occur due to sinus infection.  

What causes headaches:

Headache-Causes

The root cause of headaches is still unknown, and many types of researches are in progress to determine the same. However, generally, it can be due to a mix of signals that are sent from the nerve to the muscles and to the blood vessels in the head. Anyway, the trigger of these signals can be due to a variety of reasons that may include stress, food allergies, vitamin or mineral imbalance, body conditions like cold, throat infection, fever or sinuses or environmental factors like perfume, chemical smell or second-hand smoke of tobacco, etc. It can also happen due to back strain or eye strain, hormonal imbalance, or hereditary factors in the family.

How is a headache diagnosed:

Diagnosis of a headache starts with the complete history of a patient and a physical examination by a trained physician. Usually, radiology or laboratory tests are also conducted to find out any underlying condition if the situation is critical, as in the case of a secondary headache. These tests can help in identifying any symptom that may be present, and then the diagnosis can be done successfully.

Key facts and Stats

  1. Headache or Migraine disease is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system today. It is the 3rd most common illness in the world after cough and cold.
  2. Globally, it has been estimated that 1 out of 5 people are traced with Headache or Migraine problem. Nearly half of the adult population have had a headache problem (at least once) within every six months.
  3. Astonishingly, 12% of the US population, including children, suffers from migraine. 20% of American women, 10% of men, and 12% of children deal with migraine problem.
  4. Migraines are possibly hereditary (genetic), and they tend to run in families. About 90% of migraine Patient has a family record of migraine.
  5. Headache is most common between the ages of 18 and 50 (affecting people of all races, income levels, and geographical areas).
  6. Surprisingly, Headache disorders are most commonly associated with damaged quality of life and stress like, for example, financial loss, job pressure, family responsibility, bad relationship, poor eating habits and lifestyle, etc. Most people don’t become conscious of how serious and devastating migraine can be.
  7. Headache is the most under-rated and under-treated disease in the world.
  8. Every 5 seconds, someone in Europe goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain. And approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.

20 amazing home remedies for treating headaches:

Certain home remedies can be quite helpful in treating headaches because they can strike at the root of the problem and help in getting rid of it permanently. We take a look here at some of them to get an understanding.

1.) Adequate rest

Adequate rest-Home Remedies

Getting enough sleep each night is very important for the human body. Sleep deprivation can lead to headaches, and conversely, more sleep can also induce a headache. Therefore, as medical professionals often say, it is very important to have a peaceful sleep of seven to nine hours so that a headache can be avoided.  

2.) Drinking water:

Not consuming enough water that is needed by the body can lead to headache as well as migraine. Dehydration can even affect the concentration of a person and may cause irritability. Drinking enough water, as well as water-rich food, can relieve headache symptoms within 30 minutes to three hours.

3.) Using essential oils:

These are concentrated liquids that have aromatic compounds in them derived from many types of plants. They offer considerable therapeutic benefits and can be used topically while some of them can also be ingested. Lavender and peppermint essential oils can be very useful in case of a headache. Lavender oil can be applied to the upper lip or even inhaled by a person suffering from migraine while peppermint oil can be applied on the temple to get rid of tension headache.

4.) Consuming an Elimination Diet:

Food intolerances can also trigger headaches in some people. Chocolate, coffee, aged cheese, citrus fruits, and alcohol are known to trigger food intolerances for people with migraine. Therefore, a twelve-week elimination diet can be a good way to cut down on the food that may be causing a headache. People can see substantial improvement by the fourth week if a headache is food-induced.

5.) Practicing Yoga:

Yoga-Home Remedy

Yoga can be a very effective way of decreasing the frequency and intensity of headaches. It can help in minimizing pain, lowering the stress, and improve flexibility that can have a superb bearing on the quality of life. To stress on the point, a study delved into the effects of yoga therapy and found out that it improved the condition within a group of 60 chronic migraine patients. The patients that received yoga therapy and conventional care experienced less intensity and frequency of headache compared to those who were only administered conventional care alone.

6.) Getting herbal remedy:

Some herbs like butterbur and feverfew can have beneficial effects on headaches. They have anti-inflammatory properties that can be very helpful for such a condition. Butterbur root is a perennial shrub of Germany and its extract in 50 to 150 mg per day can be very effective in relieving a headache in children as well as adults. On the other hand, feverfew is a flowering plant whose supplement consumed in similar dosage can help in minimizing the frequency of headache.

7.) Go for some exercise:

Some form of physical activity can be very effective in reducing the severity and frequency of headaches. There is a large study that has been conducted through the participation of more than 92,000 people that states increased headache risk is associated with a low level of physical activity. One of the easiest ways to improve the same is to increase the number of steps that a person takes each day. There can be better blood flow in the body, and a headache can be kept at bay.

8.) Consume Ginger tea:

Ginger tea-Home Remedy

Ginger root has many types of beneficial compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It even relieves vomiting and nausea, which accompany a headache. Therefore, tea made with ginger roots or consuming ginger capsules can be very effective for minimizing a headache.

9.) Consuming Magnesium:

Magnesium deficiency has been shown to create headaches, and therefore taking the mineral can be a safe and effective way of dealing with migraine headaches. Consuming 600 mg of oral magnesium citrate in a day can decrease the severity and frequency of headache, and a start with a smaller dose can be very beneficial for a patient.

10.) Avoiding high-Histamine food items:

Studies show that histamine-rich foods can trigger migraines in people who are sensitive to the chemical. Histamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that plays a key role in the digestive, nervous, and immune systems. Therefore, cutting down on foods like smoked fish, beer, cured meat, wine, and aged cheeses can be a useful strategy to get rid of headaches.

11.) Take B-complex Vitamin:

B-complex vitamins are water-soluble micronutrients that can be effective in the treatment of headaches. They have a part to play in the neurotransmitter synthesis and helps in converting food to energy. Many studies have indicated that B-complex vitamin supplements like folate, pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2), and B12 can decrease symptoms related to headaches.

12.) Consuming Coenzyme Q10:

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps in turning food to energy and is a natural and effective way of treating headaches. A study among 80 people showed that consuming CoQ10 supplements in a day minimized the severity and frequency of headaches.

13.) Consuming Caffeine drinks:

Caffeine-Home Remedies

Caffeine can help in improving one’s state of mind, compresses blood vessels, and improves alertness. When used with common medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, it can work wonderfully to treat a headache. However, excess use of caffeine should also be avoided.

14.) Avoid Nitrites and Nitrates:

Nitrites and nitrates are types of food preservatives that are used in items like bacon, sausages, and hot dogs. The blood vessel of a person can expand due to their use triggering a headache. Hence, processed meat should be avoided in the diet by people who are sensitive to nitrites and nitrates.

15.) Avoid strong smell:

Some people are sensitive to smell, and this hypersensitivity is known as osmophobia. Cigarette smoke, strongly scented food or some types of perfume can trigger a headache in such people, and it is always a good idea to stay away from these smells.

16.) Acupuncture can be useful:

Acupuncture-Home Remedy

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique in which thin needles are inserted into the skin to stimulate certain points of the body. Headache symptoms have been shown to be relieved through this technique, and in many cases, chronic migraines have been very well-treated through Acupuncture.

17.) Minimize alcohol:

Alcohol can widen the blood vessels and act as a vasodilator so that blood can flow more freely. In addition to it, one can also lose electrolytes and fluids through frequent urination that can lead to dehydration and headache. Therefore, it is always a good idea to limit its use.

18.) Using a cold compress:

A cold compress can decrease the inflammation in the head or neck area, constrict the blood vessels, and minimize nerve conduction. It can easily be made by filling a waterproof bag with ice and wrapping it with a soft towel. Applying the same on the temples, head or back of the neck can ease a headache considerably.

19.) Massage:

Massage-Home Remedy

A massage can reduce stress and relieve tension in migraine pain. It can easily be done by a masseuse to relax the shoulder and neck muscles. Another cost-effective way of massaging can be to use a tennis ball to self-massage the back and shoulders in a very satisfying way.

20.) Stress Management:

Stress can be a common cause of migraines. To deal with stress, exercising, meditation, listening to music, or warm bath therapy can be very helpful. All these methods can help in alleviating stress to a large extent, and they can easily be done at one’s home.   

Conclusion:

While people who experience headache can always turn to allopathic medication for its treatment, the above home-remedies can also be very helpful in dealing with the condition. Natural and effective methods like yoga, massage, and ample water intake are holistic ways of treating a headache so that it can be eliminated without any side-effects, and a person can feel rejuvenated at all times.

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Nikunj Sharma

Nikunj Sharma

He is a professional fitness trainer and coach (including professional sports club's fitness trainer/ aerobics and yoga instructor). He has been constantly writing from the past 2 years as an author of fitness instruction ebooks/ manuals and for several online health magazines.