Rohan came home at 3:00pm today. I had been enjoying my “quiet time” with an early tea and travel tales by my favorite blogger. While I was wondering why he is home at this time, I wanted to greet him with a whooping “Hi”. But something about his demeanor stopped me. He also didn’t say a word and progressed straight to his room and promptly the door was shut.
Rohan is my 15 year old son. Off late he has been suffering from recurrent headaches. Today’s episode especially appeared to be bad. In our times, whatever other ailment we may have suffered with, headaches were almost unheard of in childhood and teens. Headaches were considered to be for working adults above the age of 40. But these days, it’s become an everyday thing and almost half of the population of the world has suffered headaches, in some form or the other, in the last one year.
Headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world. In a quest to understand Rohan’s predicament and to help him, I have been trying to understand the triggers of headaches and how can they be relieved.
TENSION AND STRESS HEADACHES
This is the most common type of headache and most have experienced it at some point of time in their lifetime. Some more frequently than other.
It is mild to moderate pain in the head and its feels like a tight band around the head. The scalp, neck and shoulder muscles also feel tender. Although the head hurts, tension headaches normally do not keep people from their daily chores and work.
I was contemplating at what might cause these headaches besides the obvious “tension” and “stress” and it turns out that the below also might be contributing factors.
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
- A cold or flu
- A sinus infection
- Poor posture
- Emotional stress
- Decreased water intake
I have an Aunt, who suffers frequently from Migraine headaches. So I had seen firsthand what it can do to you.
Migraine pain is characteristically a severe throbbing or pulsing pain. It is usually on one side of the head. It’s more often than not accompanied by nausea and vomiting. A person suffering from migraine usually shows an extreme sensitivity to light and sound, sometimes to smell and touch as well.
Migraine can be so severe that they interfere with daily activities and work. Women are three times more susceptible to migraine than men
Some of the common triggers of migraine are
- Hormone changes - due to periods, pregnancy, hormonal treatments etd
- Skipping meals
- Caffeine – Too much or too little
- Changes in weather
- Senses - Loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells can set off a migraine.
- Physical activity
- Tobacco – Too much or too little
- Changes to your sleep – Irregular, too much or two little
- Hypertension headaches, as the name suggests, is caused by high blood pressure. A person may not know that they are suffering with headache due to hypertension, till they do no check their blood pressure. Also not all cases of hypertension will have headaches related to it.
- A headache due to hypertension occurs on both sides of the head. It can become worse with physical activity and it tends to pulsate. It may be accompanied with changes in vision, numbness or tingling, nosebleeds, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
- You must seek medical attention if you think that you are experiencing hypertension headaches.
- We are all aware that poor air quality causes respiratory issues. But are we aware that it is also a cause for headaches?
- This is a “new age headache” as we progress to an extremely polluted environment and falling air quality across the globe. Elevated levels of chemicals in the air and specific environmental irritants are known triggers for all kinds of headaches.
- Another type of pollution is noise pollution. We are accustomed to noise and oblivious to the effects it can have on us. It can cause hearing loss, disrupted sleeping patterns, increase blood pressure and headaches.
LACK OF SLEEP AND BUSY LIFESTYLE
- The millennium is sleep deprived! Be it the student, professional, businessman, artist, new mothers…all have one thing in common – lack of sleep.
- It is now known that lack of sleep increases production of certain proteins that lower the body’s threshold of pain.
- As we sleep, our body repairs itself, so that the brain and body can co-ordinate and work at optimum level. Lack of sleep is a major factor contributing to tension headaches and migraine.
TREATMENTS OF HEADACHES
Headaches can also be indicative of underlying medical issues. So it is best to schedule in the doc visit to find out the reason for headaches. However here are a few things which can be done to relieve the headaches.
REST IN A DARK AND PEACEFUL ROOM
It is a good idea to use black out curtains and turn off lights from smart phone and laptops and switch off as many electrical appliances and gadgets as possible while you recover from your headaches in the quiet.
AVOID FOOD HIGH IN HISTAMINE
Histamine is essentially a chemical that our body makes to ward of allergens. It also triggers release of stomach acid for digestion. Histamines are also associated with vasodilatation which also can be a factor for headaches. Some people are intolerant to histamines and a common outcome is headaches and migraines, induced due to the intolerance
In such cases it is best to avoid foods high in Histamines and which encourage histamine production in the body.
USE RECOMMENDED OIL
Essential oils can help reduce and treat headaches and migraine. Different essential oils offer different benefits like Peppermint oil relaxes muscles and ease pain. They are without the side effects that can accompany prescription medications. Find out which oil works best for your condition and utilize it.
USE A HEATING PAD OR COLD COMPRESS
- Heating pads on neck and shoulder help to relieve the muscle contractions that lead to tension headaches.
- Cold compress is preferred to be applied in the case of migraine on the forehead and temples.
RELAX WITH YOGA
- Yoga is not just for physical fitness but for the mind as well. Yoga is not only a holistic approach to fighting migraine but a proactive approach to reduce headaches as well.
- Specific yoga poses can release tension and stress and increase blood circulation and blood flow to your brain.
- Some good poses to relieve headaches are Child’s pose, Bridge pose, Downward facing dog and Corpse pose.
HEADACHE ROLL ON
- Roll on to relieve headaches, while on the go are the best solution. You can just whip it out of your pocket/purse and apply the oil onto the skin, either at the forehead, temples, neck or pulse points.
- There are a variety of Headache Roll on available in the market these days. Do read the labels carefully to see what the ingredients are and which type of headaches it is best suited for.Rohan is no different from the millennium generation. Given that he is a sportsperson and the added pressure of steering his studies and career, he is trying to do much more in the 24hrs. His headaches appear to be stress related. We have a docs appointment tomorrow to figure it out so that we can treat it accordingly. In the meantime the headache rolls on have been a boon and helped to lessen and prevent headaches.