Headache Pain Relief

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A Headache is pain felt above the eye or the ears, behind the cranium and / or in the back of the neck. There can be many causes for headaches but headaches can be generally classified in two main categories:

  • headaches that are not caused by other diseases or illnesses are called primary headaches. Examples of this type of headache are tension headaches, migraine headaches and cluster headaches.
  • headaches that are caused by other diseases are called secondary headaches. Example of this type of headache are those caused by caffeine withdrawal, withdrawal from analgesics,, brain tumours, strokes or meningitis.

It is always advisable to check with your doctor so that you know what type of headache you are likely to have, since the treatment will depend on it.  At Holistic Clinical Hypnotherapy we believe in working alongside traditional medicine to relieve the symptoms of primary headaches with the use of complementary practices such as hypnotherapy, self hypnosis, meditation and relaxation techniques.

Here are some hard facts about primary headaches:

  • 90% of adults will experience tension headaches in their life. Women seem to be affected more than men.
  • About 12% of the American population suffers from migraines. Children can suffer from migraine headaches as well but after puberty 18% of women will experience a migraine headache in their life compared to 6% of men
  • 1 in 1,000 people will be affected by cluster headaches, a type of headache that seem to affect more men in the latter part of their 20s more than women and children.

Whether you suffer from cluster headaches, tension headaches or migraine headaches it is very likely that your quality of life will be affected and this is why it is important you find effective headache pain relief.

Cluster Headaches Help

woman suffering

What is a cluster headache?

A cluster headache is a kind of headache that is recurrent. The headache could come on once or twice or three times a day for a period of time lasting from two weeks to three months. This period is defined as the cluster. Afterwards the headache may disappear for a while (weeks, months or years) only to come back later. Sometimes this type of headache will come back at the same time of the year or at the same time of the night if the person gets woken up by it. Cluster headaches can be very severe and more painful and intense than a migraine.

Luckily this type of headache is more rare than other types. Often they appear before the person is thirty years old, and they are not caused by underlying diseases such as brain tumors.

What causes cluster headaches?

What is known is that cluster headaches happen when the trigeminal-autonomic reflex pathway ( a nerve pathway located at the base of the brain) is activated. This activation seems to come from the hypothalamus although it is not clear what causes the activation itself.

What are the symptoms of cluster headaches?

  • The pain is usually always on one side of the head, usually behind the eye or around the eye and can expand to the forehead, the temple, the cheek, the gum or the nose.
  • The pain can be very intense and can be throbbing, constant, piercing or burning.
  • The pain can last from 15 minutes to 90 minutes and can recur at regular intervals.
  • The clusters can vary from 7 days to one year with headache-free periods in between. When chronic there may be no remission period.
  • Other typical symptoms include redness of the eyes, nasal congestion and tearing
  • Usually there is no nausea or vomiting.

What can help relieve constant headaches?

Although your doctor will prescribe abortive and preventive medications and you should always follow your doctor's advice on the matter there are other complementary ways that you can find headache pain relief and prevention. Learning relaxation techniques can be of great help in relieving pain from headaches. Self-hypnosis and meditation can also be very effective when used on a long term basis to reduce the intensity of the episodes and increase remission times.

Migraine Pain Relief and Treatments

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What is a migraine headache ? 

Migraine headaches are caused by an enlargement of blood vessels in the brain. This enlargement causes the nerves that coil around the brain arteries to release chemicals that in turn cause inflammation and pain.

Migraines activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for activating the flight or flight response to stress. This is what causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold hands and feet, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and the decreased capacity of the intestine to absorb medication.

Migraines are often chronic and recurrent and can be associated with headaches.

What are the symptoms of migraine headaches ? 

  • Throbbing or pounding pain on the temple, forehead, around the eye or on the back of the head
  • The pain is more often only one side of the head, though it can be on both sides and can switch from one to the other
  • The pain can be made worse by daily activities
  • Attacks last between four and seventy-two hours.
  • Other common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cold hands and fee, sensitivity to light and sound, diarrhea.
  • Warning signs are common and can include: feeling sleepy, irritable, tired, depressed, euphoric, experiencing cravings for sweet or salty foods.
  • Sometimes migraine headaches can be preceded by seeing flashing bright coloured lights or by experiencing a blind spot in the visual field.Sometimes pins and needles are felt in the hand / harm / one side of the body . Rarely people experience hearing hallucinations and feel abnormal tastes and smells.

What migraine treatments are available ?

Migraine relief can be found in both medication and non-medication therapies. In terms of medication there are two main types: preventive and abortive (to prevent and reduce the frequency and duration of headaches and to treat them when they occur) but while this is not the place to discuss medication therapies that provide pain relief for migraine, there are many non-medication therapies that provide migraine headaches relief.

Migraine headache pain relief can be obtained through therapy that does not involve medication. Here are some examples:

How can migraine headaches be prevented?

It is easier to prevent a migraine than to treat it. Generally migraines are triggered by factors that can be avoided, so life changes are necessary to avoid them. Common triggers are:

  • smoking (active and passive)
  • hot dogs, ham, frankfurters, bacon and sausages (contain nitrates and nitrites )
  • sharp cheese / wine / beer / sauerkraut (contain tyramine)
  • msg
  • nuts
  • pressed meat
  • stress
  • sleep disturbances (too much sleep, sleep deprivation and poor quality of sleep)
  • fasting
  • hormones
  • bright or flickering / flashing lights (including TV)
  • odours
  • alcohol
  • chocolate
  • monosodium glutamate
  • aspartame
  • caffeine (contained in cola, tea, chocolate, coffee and some analgesics)
  •  the decline in the blood level of estrogen during the onset of menstruation

Between the trigger and the onset of a migraine headache there usually is a gap that can vary from a few hours to a couple of days

What is the best headache migraine relief treatment ?

If you want some relief from a migraine headache you need to prevent it. In order to do that you can

  • use prophylactic medications (ask your doctor if this is a viable option for you)
  • identify and avoid triggers (keep a headache and food diary)
  • limit stress
  • take regular exercise (daily)
  • go to sleep and wake up at the same time throughout the week
  • eat regularly (no skipping meals)
  • limit caffeine (max two beverages a day)
  • learn relaxation techniques

Once you have a headache migraine relief can be more tricky. Relaxation techniques will always help but you should also talk to your doctor about  medication options.

 Headaches in Pregnancy

pregnant woman

It is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience a significant increase in the frequency of their headaches. Whether this is due to hormones or to stress or to a combination of both it is not clear. What seems to happen is that women experience more headaches during the first weeks of pregnancy only to see them subside in the last six months. The most common type of headache in pregnancy is tension headaches.

How do I know if I have a tension headache ?

  • you experience a squeezing pain or a dull ache on both sides of the head or the back of the neck
  • you have gone cold turkey on caffeine
  • not  enough sleep
  • you experience fatigue, congestion, allergies, stress, depression, dehydration, eye strain.
  • you are tensing the muscles in the back of the neck or the jaw

What tension headache cures are there?

There is no one fit all headache cure. What is going to provide relief from tension headaches (a part from analgesic medication) is a change to your lifestyle.Treatments can include:

  • sleep
  • massage
  • stress reduction and relaxation techniques

The good news is that if you normally suffer from migraine headaches you will probably see them decrease and improve during pregnancy. This is more likely if your migraines tended to get worse around your periods.

Constant and Chronic Headaches

If you suffer from constant headaches it is likely to be that you are experiencing are cluster headache symptoms.

However if you are pregnant or you are in a particularly stressful period of your life it could be that what you have is chronic tension headaches. It is possible to have tension headaches everyday for a limited period of time.

Either way you can help yourself by learning self hypnosis and relaxation techniques and by making some lifestyle changes that will reduce the amount of stress you are experiencing.

The good news is you don't have to be a victim of your constant headaches. While progress takes time and effort it is possible for you to experience relief from migraine headaches as well as relief from cluster and tension headaches.

Book your consultation today and start learning ways to relax that will help you find the relief you deserve. 

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