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Don't Let Headaches Control Your Life: Unusual Causes and Natural Remedies

  • Dr. Steve Young
  • 27 Mar, 2023

As a physical therapist, I often work with patients who suffer from headaches. While tension or stress are common causes of headaches, there are also some unusual causes that you might not have thought of. Let's talk about some of the strange things that can cause headaches, as well as some natural ways to treat and prevent them.

Unusual Causes of Headaches

Jaw Misalignment
Misalignment of the jaw can cause tension headaches and migraines. A misaligned bite or dental issues may be the cause of this. A dental professional or physical therapist can help realign the jaw and alleviate headaches.
Neck Strain
Straining the neck, such as from poor posture or sleeping in an awkward position, can lead to headaches. Strengthening the neck muscles and improving posture can help prevent these headaches.
Dehydration
Dehydration can cause headaches, as it can lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can help to prevent dehydration-related headaches.
Food triggers
Certain foods, such as processed meats, aged cheeses, and alcohol, can trigger headaches in some people. Keeping a food diary and avoiding trigger foods can help prevent these headaches.
Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menstruation or menopause, can cause headaches. Hormone therapy or medication can help alleviate these headaches.

Natural Remedies for Headaches

Essential Oils
Certain essential oils, such as lavender and peppermint, can help relieve headache pain. Applying the oils to the temples or inhaling them can provide relief.
Acupuncture
Acupuncture can help to relieve tension and improve blood flow, which can alleviate headaches.
Massage
Massage therapy can help to relieve tension and improve blood flow, which can alleviate headaches.
Yoga
Practicing yoga can help to relieve stress and tension, which can prevent headaches.
Magnesium
Magnesium supplements or magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds and spinach, can help prevent headaches.

Preventative Measures

Practice Good Posture: Maintaining good posture can help prevent tension headaches.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can help prevent dehydration-related headaches.

Regular exercise can help reduce stress and tension, which can help keep headaches at bay.

Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep can help prevent fatigue-related headaches.

Avoid Trigger Foods: Keeping a food diary and avoiding foods that cause headaches can help stop headaches that are caused by food.

Types of Headaches

Muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulders is what causes tension headaches, which are the most prevalent type of headache.

Migraines: Migraines are severe headaches that frequently come with nausea and sensitivity to sound and light.

Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches are rare but severe headaches that occur in clusters or patterns.

Sinus headaches: Inflammation, swelling, or sinusitis are the causes of sinus headaches.

When to seek medical attention!

While most headaches are not serious, there are some instances where medical attention should be sought. These include:

Sudden and severe headaches: Headaches that come on suddenly and are extremely severe could indicate a serious condition, such as a stroke or aneurysm.

Other symptoms in addition to headaches: A medical professional should assess headaches that are also experiencing other symptoms like vomiting, confusion, or weakness.

Headaches that do not respond to treatment: If a headache does not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers or other treatments, medical attention should be sought.

Tech Neck: Another type of headache that is becoming more prevalent in today's world is the "tech neck" headache. Spending a lot of time looking down at your phone or computer screen puts strain on your neck and upper back muscles, which results in "tech neck." This can cause tension headaches, which are often described as a dull, achy pain that starts at the base of the skull and radiates up to the forehead.

To prevent tech neck headaches, it's important to take frequent breaks and stretch your neck and upper back muscles throughout the day. You can also try to hold your phone or tablet at eye level instead of looking down at it, and make sure your computer monitor is at the appropriate height.

Remedies

When it comes to natural remedies for headaches, there are many options to consider.

Aromatherapy, which uses essential oils to help people relax and feel less pain, is one of the best. Peppermint oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil are all known for their headache-relieving properties.

Another natural remedy that can be helpful for headaches is acupuncture. In this ancient Chinese method, thin needles are put into certain points on the body to help the body heal and relieve pain. While the exact mechanism by which acupuncture works is not fully understood, many people report significant relief from headaches after receiving acupuncture treatments.

Good to know

It's important to note that while most headaches are not dangerous, there are some instances when you should seek medical attention right away. If you get a severe headache out of nowhere, especially if you also feel numb, confused, or have trouble speaking, it could be a sign of something more serious, like a stroke or aneurysm. In these cases, it's important to call 911 or seek emergency medical attention right away.

Headaches can be a frustrating and painful condition, but there are many solutions available. By understanding the different types of headaches, taking steps to prevent them from happening, and trying natural remedies, you can find relief and get back to your daily life.

References:

  • Goadsby, P. J., Lipton, R. B., & Ferrari, M. D. (2002). Migraine--current understanding and treatment. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(4), 257-270.
  • Wells, R. E., & Bertisch, S. M. (2013). Complementary and integrative medicine for neurologic conditions. Medical Clinics, 97(6), 1061-1081.
  • American Migraine Foundation. (n.d.). Headache triggers and causes. Retrieved from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/headache-triggers-and-causes/

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