How to deal with constant headaches
THE most common causes of recurring headaches are migraines or tension headaches. But how do you get rid of them?
Both types have some features in common – each are common in people with a family history of headaches, they often start in the teen years and may be triggered by stress – but certain factors distinguish one from the other.
Migraines are more likely to affect just one side of the head and may be preceded by changes in mood, appetite, bowel habit and/or drowsiness, as well as visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzagging lines. They are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. They are usually relieved by sleep and last from half an hour to several hours.
Among the many triggers for migraines are dehydration, poor sleep patterns, irregular meals, some alcoholic beverages, chocolate, citrus and other foods, caffeine withdrawal, strong odours, loud noises, bright lights, hormonal fluctuations, stress, over-exercising and excessive screen time (computers, TV, gaming).
Tension headaches may continue despite sleep and last from half an hour to days or weeks. Common triggers for tension headaches include postural problems, anxiety, stress, fatigue, emotional strain, depression, loud noises, bright lights and prolonged reading.
Talk to your doctor about your likely diagnosis. Keeping a headache diary will help you see which triggers precede your headaches. Prevention by identifying and avoiding your triggers is ideal, but not always possible. If not, your doctor may recommend medication.
Migraine medications generally fall into two types: those for managing acute attacks and those taken daily to prevent frequent and severe attacks.
For tension headaches, in addition to judicious use of analgaesics, you can also try relaxation techniques, neck and shoulder massage, heat packs, creating better work-life balance, regular exercise and possibly counselling to assist with anxiety and emotional issues