How to Help a Headache
By Martin Brown
But now is the time to think about this all too common affliction, given the fact that June is Migraine Awareness Month and so many of us suffer from the misery of persistent headaches.
In truth, they are no laughing matter particularly for those who are suffering. They can range from ice cream headaches that are intense but pass quickly, to migraines, that are intense, and can go on for 24-hours or more. And then there are so many other forms of headaches, such as: cough, thunderclap, chronic daily, exercise, sinus, spinal, external compression, and stress.
We feel sorry for headache sufferers. At times, however, we grow impatient with them as well. It can be difficult for us to imagine that a person who otherwise looks fine, healthy complexion, not in apparent distress is still in great discomfort. Of course if you’re the one suffering you know just how miserable that headache can make you feel.
In this first article in a series of articles on the causes and cures of headaches we want to focus on one of the most common forms if this multi-faceted affliction, the stress headache.
Stress is a tricky and yet common form of headache. Stress can bring on the headache, and the headache itself can cause additional stress so it has a nasty tendency to create a viscous cycle. The obvious reliever is to reduce stress; the more daunting question is how.
Also known as tension headaches, if you suffer with this form of headaches you should take some comfort in knowing that it is considered to be the most common form of headache.
If you suffer frequently from stress related headaches, over-the-counter medication, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Aspirin, in it’s various brand forms from Bayer to Tylenol is not a wise long-term strategy for headache mitigation. Why? Because over time persistent use of these products can take a toll on your stomach and liver. This doesn’t mean to avoid these medications altogether but rather to be very aware that a family size container of Tylenol sitting on the corner of your desk is not a wellness plan.
To beat stress headaches naturally consider the following steps.
Take better care of your overall health. That means diet and exercise. Junk food diets, and lack of physical activity set out a welcome mat for tension headaches. Pull in that mat by dropping the burger and fries for veggies and rice. As for exercise, there is no better stress buster known to the health world than brisk walking, sit-ups, cycling, or swimming, People are always amazed to find that after just a few weeks of diet and exercise, their daily headaches just fade away.
Take the needed steps to simplify your life. Often we are the ones who overwhelm ourselves. We tend not to see that but it’s true nonetheless. Drop those things from your schedule that are not really needed. If you’re a habitual volunteer take care to manage your time wisely. Anyone of us can drown in an endless to do list if we don’t know how to just say no.
Relax, take a break, and learn to let go. For various psychological reasons some of us are just on 24/7. Whether that’s a fitful sleep or not knowing how to unwind, this behavior takes its toll often in the form of tension headaches. Further, that tendency we have to chew on a problem and not let go adds to our problems as well. At times like these remember that wonderful Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
In our next article on this topic, we’ll cover migraine headaches.
Before ending, however, a note of general caution about all headaches. Most are nothing to worry about. As we said, headaches can strike often and have many causes. But remember that you should always seek emergency care if your headache is sudden and severe, or it is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, rash, confusion, a seizure, double vision, weakness, numbness or a general difficulty in speaking.
This is particularly true when a headache follows a seemingly innocent head injury, such as a fall or bump. These symptoms might indicate a need for prompt attention and treatment.
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