Health And Family

What is causing your headache?

MIND YOUR BODY - Dr. Willie T. Ong - The Philippine Star

The holiday stress must have given you some headaches. Everyone gets a headache from time to time. Most headaches, especially those of short duration and mild intensity, are nothing to worry about. However, there are certain rare types that could be more serious. Let’s find out how to distinguish the harmless types from the deadly ones.

Harmless causes

The hot weather and climate changes, like going in and out of air-conditioned rooms then out in the streets, are possible causes of headaches. Lack of sleep and stress can also produce headaches.

Those with high blood pressure, if uncontrolled (greater than 140 over 90), can sometimes experience nape pains. Some medications can also cause a headache in the first few days of intake.

Tension headaches

What about stress? If your head feels like someone just placed a strong rubber band around it, then it could be a tension headache. As the name implies, it’s emotionally-related. Too much work or family stresses can cause this. Try this: Ask your wife to gently massage your head, if the pain goes away, it’s a telltale sign it’s tension headache.

You may also try a self-massage for headaches. When you feel a headache coming, try these techniques. Begin by placing the tip of your fingers on your temple area. It’s the place with a soft depression between your eyes and ears. Massage this area with a circular motion using firm pressure for 30 seconds. Afterwards, you can massage the area around the temple, such as below, above, and front and back of the temple. This will relax the muscles in the area.

Next, massage the skin along the hairline, then the whole forehead and scalp area. Try to massage also the area between the eyebrows, using firm and small circular motion. You may also pinch the skin alternatively. Massaging this location can help reduce eye pain and strain.

Eye-related & sinusitis headaches

Does your headache occur after prolonged reading? If it does, this points to an eye problem like an error of refraction, astigmatism or presbyopia. Visit your ophthalmologist or optometrist and get a pair of glasses.

Pain from sinusitis is usually obvious. There’s stuffy nose and the pain is located in the sinus areas (you have two pairs of sinuses beside your nose and two pairs at the level of the eyebrows). Go to your doctor, preferably an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist.

Migraine headaches

Migraine headaches are more troublesome and different in character. The headache has a pounding or throbbing quality. And it usually occurs on one side of the head only and often felt right behind one eye. Migraines are more painful. You feel nauseated and prefer lying down in a quiet dark room. Some people even see jagged lights and color a few minutes before the onset of the headache, which doctors refer to as an “aura.” There’s a tablet you can take to abort an attack. But you need to see a doctor beforehand, preferably a neurologist.

When should you worry?

Our readers should also be aware of the danger signals which, if present, would tell you that you need to see your doctor.

Vomiting with headache is a worrisome sign, especially if the headache is severe. It could be a stroke or something else. Fever accompanied by severe headache could point to typhoid fever or meningitis (an infection in the brain). But it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you vomit or have fever, you’ve got these conditions. Doctors just want to be careful and care for you the best they possibly can.

Something we definitely should worry about are the signs and symptoms of a stroke: 1) any sudden weakness in the arm or leg, 2) numbness of a part of the face, 3) sudden slurring of speech, 4) trouble with walking or loss of balance, 5) blurry or double vision, 6) drowsiness or confusion and 7) severe headache.

Strokes usually occur in older people, especially those with high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. If these symptoms occur suddenly, forget the out-patient checkup and rush the patient to the hospital. You’ll know a stroke when you see it.

Sign of brain tumor?

Lastly, some people worry that they may have a brain tumor. Headache is rarely the first sign of a tumor. And most tumors don’t have headaches. But if we really, really want to be sure and you have lots of money to spare, then we can order a CT-scan or MRI to rule out the serious causes of headaches.

Majority of headaches are harmless and will just go away. If your headache is disrupting your work, then by all means, see a doctor. But for the usual headache, the acceptable doctor’s advice still is: “Take a paracetamol, then call me in the morning if it’s still there.”









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