Age-net finds out why you may be suffering daily headaches and step you can take to prevent them.
Tension headaches can come on rapidly and last for several hours. Usually, your first stop is the medicine cabinet to reach for some painkillers like Paracetomol or the likes. That can only go on for so long though and no doubt – you don’t want to be popping pills just to dull the pain, knowing full well it’s going to come back.Every adult and even children will get tension type headaches. Around one in three adults will experience these up to 15 times in one month. That can feel like every day and you’ll want to see your GP to get things checked out first.
About a third of adults wind up experiencing these headaches everyday and when that happens, you need to see your doctor to get things checked out. Your GP will ask you about your family history, what your diet is like, your general lifestyle, such as if you’re exercising, eating right, getting around okay, and the stress levels you’re experiencing, and the nature and frequency of your headaches.
They will need as much information from you so they can rule out any more serious problems the headaches could be caused by.
- Normal headaches – These are what we all have experienced at some point, and likely will again.
- Primary headaches – These can be migraines, and cluster headaches. Tension type headaches are in this same category and they become a primary headache when you experience them more frequently.
Tension type headaches are normal and can be attributed to muscle tension, neck tension, as well as stress related. They’re typically similar of the normal headache but occur more frequently.
- Secondary headaches – These are when the pain is associated with underlying problems that require medical treatment. These are far more worrying than any other because complications can arise if the underlying medical problem isn’t treated. Fewer than 10% of people attending their GP are experience this type of headache.
Over 90% of headaches treated in primary care are normal headaches. That includes tension type headaches and those are normal headaches with increased frequency.
Your doctor is the only person who can diagnose the type of headaches you’re experiencing and provide you with the right pain medications to help.
Don’t use online self-diagnosis services as they’ll have you running around in every direction.
A staggering 33% of adults have headaches everyday or there abouts. When you experience these more than 15 times a month, for three months – that’s chronic tension-type headaches.
What’s causing people to experience headaches daily?
That’s a question that has no answer. The only thing that is known is the triggers of them.
Headache triggers can be any one or a combination of factors including:
- Your stress levels
- Poor eyesight resulting in you having to squint to see
- Not getting enough sleep
- An inactive lifestyle
- Poor body posture
- Not getting enough fluids into your body
- Irregular eating habits
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
If you experience frequent headaches, you may recognise some of those triggers, in which case you can make changes and avoid it. It’s advisable to keep a journal so that when you find a common trigger, you’ll know what you need to do stop the headaches from re-occurring.
That is – if it is tension-type headaches. Those triggers can also be indicators of other types of headaches.
Short-term treatment for tension headaches
Pain medications are only short-term treatment options and they shouldn’t be used for more than ten days. As you’ll know, the more you use meds, the more likely your body is to develop an immunity to them. Eventually, you’ll be taking more pills, and your body will develop an immunity to them. That’s why you’re best to tackle the root of the problem.
The advice that’s usually given is to alter your lifestyle. Such as exercise more, eat more healthily, manage your stress better etc.
If you just feel like you’re experiencing headaches nearly everyday but they aren’t more than 15 times a month, it’s likely you’ll be using Paracetomol based products, Aspirins, or Ibuprofen. These should not be used long term, because the longer you use them your headaches can change because of the painkillers. In particular those that contain codeine.
Instead of tension type headaches, you could find yourself experiencing medication-overuse headaches. This can happen when you use painkillers for more than ten days. If you’re experiencing headaches daily, and managing it with pain medications, you could run the risk of developing a dependency. Even though you may feel you can stop taking them and aren’t dependent, when you stop taking them, the headache will reoccur. That’s when you experience medication overuse headaches.
Prevention is always the best cure
You’ll have heard that saying before and in the case of daily headaches, there’s not a more true statement that reflects what you need to do.
Tackle the problem head on and lay it to rest by cutting out all of the triggers from your life.
The most common thing people who suffer from this have is unhealthy stress levels. Stress is good for you, but in healthy doses. When the fight-flight response is activated, your brain produces an assortment of chemicals. It’s what can give you a burst of energy and boost your productivity.
Stress becomes a problem when you go into overload, i.e – meltdown. Total panic frenzy when you can’t think straight and get a rush of thoughts going through your mind, making it next to impossible to make a decision.
Unhealthy stress needs managed, so you need to relax.
Exercise helps you relax. One of the most relaxing exercises you can do is yoga and it works great for lowering your stress levels because there’s more emphasis on your breathing technique than there is on the amount of exercise you do.
Massages can provide you with instant relaxation without any effort on your part, but to get the best relaxation, combine exercise with massage therapy.
Acupuncture is another preventative treatment option. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommend a course of up to ten acupuncture sessions, spread over a period of five to eight weeks to prevent re-occurring headaches.
Foods can trigger headaches
If you eat much the same things routinely, it might be something you’re eating that’s triggering your headaches. That’s why it helps to keep a journal. It will help you understand what your triggers are and there’s every chance it could be something you’re consuming.
Alcohol is the number one obvious thing that will trigger headaches. Hangover anyone?
It’s the unknown elements in food you have to be wary of though. Additives and preservatives have been known to trigger headaches. Certain additives can dilate your blood vessels and be the cause of the problem.
Cheese is another food that’s high up there as candidates to reduce in your diet.
Take a bit of time to understand how your body is working. Write down what you do from day to day, especially when your headache comes on. Having notes about the foods you ate, whether you’ve exercised or not, the time you had a glass of water to the time your headache came on, as well as other things you do day to day, such as the amount of exercise you’ve got in, or if you’ve been idle for most of the day.
The more information you collect, the better a position you’ll be in to understand your own triggers and begin to put an end to your headache nightmare.