Articles on management of chronic headaches

5 Natural Ways to Get Rid of a Headache

Dr. Rajesh Kr. Bhardwaj
A headache continues to be one of the most common symptoms for which patients seek medical help - in the outpatient as well as in casualty/emergency, for sudden severe headache. A headache is responsible for a lot of suffering and loss of work days in the working population. It should be noted that brain tissue by itself does not experience pain, it is the meninges and blood vessels around the brain that cause the pain.The following headaches are the most dangerous ones-First-time headache in an elderlyThe worst headache of your lifeA headache associated with vomitingA headache associated with visual symptomsA headache associated with other neurological problems including neck stiffness etc.It is obvious that these are serious headaches that need urgent medical attention.Apart from these, a vast majority of headaches occur because of a migraine, or too much stress, or a chronic condition.To minimise the common ones, some simple lifestyle modifications can be made. These will help in reducing the severity as well as the frequency of these episodes. 1. Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep, sleeping either less or more frequently causes a headache. Establish a good 'sleep hygiene' - go to sleep the same time every night, do not have a heavy meal before sleeping, read a light book before you sleep.2. Drink plenty of water.  It is true that in our busy schedule we sometimes forget to drink adequate water. We must drink water at regular intervals.3. Avoid certain foods.  Certain foods like cheese, chocolate, very heavy and oily meals, sweets can cause headaches in some people. These should be avoided. Do not skip meals. Skipping a meal or eating excessively - both can lead to headaches. You must eat regularly, and in moderation.Chocolates can sometimes cause a headache.4. Avoid going out in the hot sun. Carry out your outdoor activities in the morning or evening. If it is unavoidable to step out in the sun, cover your head, wear dark glasses and drink plenty of water.5. Regular physical activity.Especially some group activity like Yoga or playing a game helps connect with others and keeps you cheerful and healthy. Moderate physical activity is helpful.Many of the lifestyle-related headaches can be prevented by making these minor adjustments in our daily routine.

Get Rid Of Headache - Naturally

Dr. Swapnil Dharmadhikari, Ayurveda
According to Ayurvedic texts, mostly, too much of heat generated in the body (or pitta) leads to headaches. In such situations, cooling the body down may help reduce the pain. Drink some buttermilk or tender coconut water; ot try massaging some castor oil onto your scalp and the soles of your feet. You can then follw this up by washing them with warm water and shikakai. Apart from this you could also try including poppy seeds (khus-khus), coconut and ghee into your diet.Eat right-Research increasingly shows that certain foods have the ability to trigger headaches – especially migraines. Foods such as cheese, coffee, chocolate and tea that contain vasoactive amines, that are known to trigger painful migraine headaches. These amines affect the flow of blood in and around the brain, leading to headaches. If you frequently suffer from headaches, maintain a food diary and note down what food specifically triggers your headaches and avoid these foods to keep headaches at bay.Manage stress levels-One way to help reduce stress is by planning ahead and organizing your day. Another way is to allow more time to relax. And if you're caught in a stressful situation, consider stepping back.Go hot or cold. Applying heat or ice — whichever you prefer — to sore muscles, may ease a tension headache. For heat, use a heating pad set on low, a hot-water bottle, a warm compress or a hot towel. A hot bath or shower also may help. For cold, wrap ice, an ice pack or frozen vegetables in a cloth to protect your skin.Perfect your posture-Good posture can help keep your muscles from tensing. When standing, hold your shoulders back and your head level. Pull in your abdomen and buttocks. When sitting, make sure your thighs are parallel to the ground and your head isn't slumped forward.Following home remedies have proven helpful to get rid of headache's-1. GingerGinger can help reduce inflammation of the blood vessels in the head, thus providing relief from a headache.Mix equal parts of ginger juice and lemon juice. Consume it once or twice a day.Another option is to apply a paste of one teaspoon of dry ginger powder, also called sonth, and two tablespoons of water on the forehead for a few minutes.You can also boil ginger powder or raw ginger in water, and inhale the vapor.Chew one or two pieces of crystallized ginger candy.2. Mint JuiceMenthol and menthone are the primary components of mint which are very effective in alleviating headaches.Extract mint juice from a handful of mint leaves and apply it on forehead and temples to treat headache.You can also place mint tea compresses on the forehead to relieve discomfort. Along with mint juice, corainder juice is also effective in treating headaches.3. Peppermint OilPeppermint contains menthol that helps open up clogged blood vessels that cause headaches. It also has calming and soothing effects.Mix three drops of peppermint essential oil in one tablespoon of almond oil, olive oil or just water. Massage your forehead and temples with it. Or, you can put crushed fresh peppermint leaves on your forehead.Alternatively, you can prepare a steam treatment by adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil to a small pot of boiling water. Inhale the steam for a few minutes.4. BasilBasil works as a muscle relaxant, making it a helpful treatment for mild headaches caused by tense muscles. Plus, it has calming and analgesic effects.Put three or four fresh basil leaves in a cup of boiling water and let it simmer for a few minutes. Optionally, add a little honey and then sip the tea slowly.You can also boil one tablespoon of basil leaves or a few drops of basil oil to a pot of boiling water and carefully lean over the pot to take in the steam.Alternatively, chew some fresh basil leaves or massage your forehead with basil oil mixed with a base oil.5. Lavender OilSimply smelling the soothing scent of lavender essential oil can be of great help in relieving tension headaches. Research suggests that it can also help improve migraine symptoms.Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on a tissue and inhale it. You can also add two drops of lavender oil to two cups of boiling water and inhale the steam.Another option is to mix two or three drops of lavender essential oil in one tablespoon of carrier oil such as almond oil or olive oil and massage your forehead with it.Note: Do not take lavender oil orally.Ayurvedic preparations for headache's-Medicines such as Pathyadi kadha, sootshekhar ras, kamdudha, godanti bhasma etc are very useful in chronic types of headache. Also panchakarma like Shirodhara and nasya treatment play an important role.

Is Your Computer the Cause of Your Headache?

Dr. Rahul Jain, Ophthalmologist
In today's digital world, at least in the urban population, computer usage is a part of daily life. Most of us have experienced some kind of discomfort related to computer use. Of the many symptoms, "headache" is the most commonly reported problem in my clinic among the individuals aged between 20 to 45 years. So, are all the headaches related to the eyes and computer usage?? What do you need to know about these headaches??For a doctor to diagnose why one has a headache may be a difficult task in the first go. Most often when I am asked such direct questions, I do not have a definite reply. As a doctor I am specialized to treat the body, but not the mind and spirit. Many of us have a very complex mental/physical state in between 20 to 45 years of our life. We face a lot of challenges. Hence, it may be easy to conclude: that not all the headaches are directly related to eyes and computer usage alone.So how do you decide when to go to an ophthalmologist and what to expect??It is best to see an eye specialist at least once before you join a job which involves computer usage and every year after that. In your routine consultation your doctor will check for any refractive error you have, general condition of your eyes, your eye pressure, and the optic nerve and retina status. For a full check-up it may take up to 60-90 minutes and after a dilated retinal evaluation your vision may be blurred for 4-5 hours. So do not ride or drive yourself if you need a full check-up. Best to go with a friend/spouse who can drive you back.A great proportion of patients do have uncorrected refractive errors which can definitely give headaches.Especially uncorrected plus (+) and cylindrical (axis) powers can cause more discomfort.Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) can present in a lot of ways (like - red rimmed eyes, burning, irritation, neck pain, fatigue after long working hours, sleepy eyes, swollen lids, headaches etc.) and is a condition which can affect an individual even if one does not have a refractive error. How to avoid few of these symptoms would be a separate article altogether.It is important to wear your spectacles all the time if your doctor has advised, even if you are not working with computers. Infrequent and inadequate wear can also cause headaches.Individuals in their 40s and above may require a progressive spectacle for focusing near distances like reading and computer work.Also some of the individuals may do well with a plane spectacle without power with anti-reflective coating (ARC) and UV protection. Though not to expect a magic out of it and probably it may sometimes be a psychological feeling of well being.Minor changes in refraction prescription may not be a certain reason for severe headaches but may sometimes cause a dropped vision or discomfort. Your doctor will be the best judge to decide if you need to change your present spectacle or not in such situations.I would also advise not to spend any leisure time in front of computers, TVs, iPad/Mobiles until unless necessary or important.Above mentioned reasons may be the cause of headaches but there are many more reasons apart from your eyes and the computer usage which can cause frequent headaches, severe ones, lasting for days together, hammering your head, one sided ones, and bringing down your quality of life. With the changing lifestyle, there are a lot of compromises we do. There are a few things we can do to make these type of headaches trouble you less frequently and then there are some situations which we cannot change.Here are a few tips and must do things to make yourself feel better:"Stress" is the most important cause of such headaches. Meditation is definitely known to improve the mental health over time. The effects are not immediate but patience and sincere practice will make a lot of difference.Importance of exercise, ideal body weight, good dietary habits, and healthy life style is needless to mention.Definitely a big "NO" to smoking and alcoholism.Plan your next day: be prepared. Be at least 15 minutes early to everything you have planned. Do not rush and stress yourself at the last minute.A large proportion of patients do not have breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Hypoglycemia not only causes headaches but also makes a person more irritable. It is advised to have more number of meals/snacks a day than just having 3 heavy meals. Divide the same quantity of food into 6 times. Also you can have fruits / juice packs / dry fruits / biscuits in your bag which can be very handy at times when you are getting late for your lunch or to satisfy your evening hunger.Unhappy work environment, travel time, long working hours, family related tensions, unhappy relationships, lack of sleep / sleep disorders, personality problems are also known to cause headaches and mental fatigue. In such situations you are the best judge to yourself. Decide and stick to what makes you happy and comfortable.Get a thorough check-up with your family physician to rule out any diseases like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, vitamin deficiencies etc.If headache still continues to trouble you, do not hesitate to take a neurologists opinion right away. Rarely but not uncommon, one can have headache due to some seriously worrying medical reasons too.Remember "MNOPQ" for headachesM: Meditation improves your mental healthN: Nutrition serves the right fuelO: Opinion from an ophthalmologist and neurologist will rule out any medical issuesP: Physical fitness and good planning will push you to do your bestQ: Quality of life improvements will give you happiness            To conclude: Look at yourself as a whole.To be headache free is largely your own responsibility when you have a busy life. Do not assume you are a patient every time when you get a headache who is yet again ready to accept a medical treatment. Have trust in your doctor who is doing his/her best to get you out of your medical problems but also remember doctors are not magicians. Sometimes you have to do the magic yourself.

How‬ to Get Rid of Headache Caused by Summer Heat?

Dr.Mini Lanjewar
Headaches are extremely common, especially during the summer. It can cause unbearable pain along with nausea and at times, vomiting.According to a Neurology study, your headache risk increases by 8 % each time the temperature climbs nine degrees. And, some recent data suggest that the summer season is the most common time for headaches.‪Ways‬ to get rid of headache caused by summer heat:    1. Shield‬ YourselfBright sunlight is a common headache trigger. Protect yourself from both bright light and glare with sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats.     2. ‪Hydrate‬If the cause of your headache is dehydration, you can easily get relief from the pain by re-hydrating your body. Simply drink a glass of water at the first sign of a headache and continue taking small sips throughout the day.‪     3. Relax‬One of the best ways to cure a headache naturally is to engage in relaxation therapy. You can do this in various ways such as deep breathing and meditation. These are helpful when done regularly.‪      4. Be‬ Aware of All Your TriggersIn addition to food and drink, dehydration, exercise, bright light and loud noises are significant triggers.‪       5. Make‬ Smart food choicesSome of the summer foods can be part of the problem. Avoid common food triggers such as foods with nitrates (including prepared meats) and MSG. However, the following fruits and herbs will help to alleviate the pain caused due to headaches.‪  ‎ Lemon‬:   Lemon is a very effective and powerful ingredient to treat headache.‪  Apple‬:  Both apples and apple cider vinegar can be used to fight off a headache.‪  Peppermint‬:  Peppermint has calming and soothing properties that can help treat headaches.‪  Ginger‬:  Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease headache pain.6. Eucalyptus‬ oil ( Nilgiri Oil)Eucalyptus oil has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. 

9 Steps to Stop and Avoid Headaches

Dt. Itu Chhabra, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Headaches are an extremely common and disabling condition. Headaches can range from mild to severe, and the causes of headache vary widely. For some people, something as simple as missing their morning cup of coffee or eating a bar of chocolate can bring on a headache or migraine.Most headaches fall into three categories: tension headache, chronic daily headache and migraine.Here are ways to stop a headache and get back to enjoying life:1. Hydrate: Headaches can be a sign of dehydration. Drink water and plenty of it throughout the day.2. Caffein-ate: When you’re in the throes of an aching head, caffeine may be the one of the most useful drugs you can use. Caffeine helps to constrict dilated blood vessels in your head and stop nerves from sending pain messages. Caffeine also helps pain medications work better. But, While a little caffeine can help to reduce a headache, too much caffeine can worsen headaches. Hence moderation is the key.3. Feed it: Your brain needs glucose. It needs it constantly. Headaches, on the other hand, may make you feel nauseated. Eat small, frequent portions of food. Here are some foods and nutrients to try:# Ginger: This fragrant, spicy flavoring can help to quell both an aching head and nausea brought on by a headache. Ginger reduces inflammation and also interferes with the production of histamines – those chemicals that stuff up your head and contribute to headaches. Sip some ginger-root tea or nibble at some crystallized ginger# Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods high in “good fats” called omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inflammation throughout the body – including the brain. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and evening primrose oil.# Vitamin-E rich foods: Foods high in the antioxidant vitamin E may help to reduce inflammation. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and other plant oils, especially olive oil.# Magnesium: It may help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines and other headaches. Magnesium appears to help promote the production of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, and affects several other chemicals involved in headaches. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, avocados , leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potato, squashes, lentils, blackstrap molasses, raisins, nuts, seeds, and seafood.Identify and avoid food triggers. Many people find that chocolate, alcohol, and foods containing MSG can trigger their headaches. Avoid these foods when your head is throbbing.4. Massage: More than 90% of headaches are tension headaches, caused by a build-up of tension in the neck and shoulders. Often, you can massage your own headache away. Here’s how:# Stand in a warm shower and let the water pulsate on your neck and upper shoulders. Then use your fingers and thumbs to gently massage the back of your neck.# Gently but firmly massage the painful part of your head using your thumb and forefinger. Move slowly along the hairline from the the temples to the forehead until your fingers meet in the middle.# Massage your scalp. Let your hair down, then use the tips of your fingers to massage your scalp. Use firm pressure and a small circular motion.5. Dim the lights: Turn off the lights, lay down, and shut your eyes. Many people experience heightened sensitivity to light during a headache, especially migraine. 6. Use a cold compress: Apply a cool, wet cloth to your forehead. The coolness helps to constrict blood vessels and stop nerves from firing off pain signals.7. Exercise: It may be the last thing you feel like doing while you’re in the throes of a headache, but exercise can stop a headache in its tracks. Exercise causes your body to release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins, which may help to minimize the headache. It also reduces stress, which contributes mightily to all types of headache. Don your sunglasses and get out for a walk. Exercise is also useful for headache prevention.8. Avoid tobacco: Smoke from cigarettes, pipes, and cigars can trigger headaches in both smokers and the people around them (via secondhand, or environmental, smoke). Chewing tobacco may also contribute to headache. Nicotine, a chemical found in tobacco, stimulates blood vessels in the brain and 2) Smoking also triggers the ganglion nerves in the back of the throat, which can trigger headaches. 9. Use Relaxation techniques: Biofeedback, meditation, visualization, and other relaxation techniques may be effective ways for some people to reduce headache.

Experiencing Headaches in the Morning?

Dr. Pranay, Dentist
ASK THE DENTIST: Visit your dentist if you experience headaches in the morningHeadaches can be caused by many different problems and factors, and often they have no link to your oral health. However, if you are experiencing regular headaches, it is possible you have problems with your dental occlusion, which is a term that refers to the way your teeth meet when your jaws bit together.There are many people with poor dental occlusion, but some people adjust their habits to prevent any issues. However, for some people, or for those experiencing serious stress, these problems can be extremely obvious.One clear sign is that you are waking each morning with a headache, which can be the result of possible jaw problems.This is exacerbated in cases where patients are clenching or grinding teeth in their sleep, which can also lead to jaw tenderness.Worn, loose and sensitive teeth can also be caused by poor dental occlusion.When it comes to teeth, one of the most common symptoms includes heavily worn teeth, which can be easily fractured or broken during the night or even during the day if you’re not careful to avoid grinding.Gums can be affected by poor dental occlusion due to the damage cause by incorrect bite. Often, more severe bites can lead to loose teeth or receding gum lines, eventually causing teeth to fall out or break.If you think you may be suffering from dental occlusion problems, it could be time to visit your dentist.There are many ways your issues could be addressed, but a change in diet can be particularly useful to those who are struggling with joint pain and headaches; soft diet is a good way to relieve pain and reduce the tension in your jaw.Jaw exercise can also beneficial, helping you to reduce the amount of pain you experience in the future.In more serious cases, your dentist may suggest replacement of teeth or tooth adjustment, which can reduce the strain on teeth that are poorly directed or rubbing against each other.By adjusting or removing troublesome teeth, your dentist can help your muscles relax, reducing pain in your gums and helping you avoid the onset of headaches and jaw pain.

Is Your Jaw Pain Causing Discomfort and Headaches?

Dr. Yogesh Rao, Dentist
What kind of problems might I have?If your teeth don't fit together properly, you can have problems not only in your teeth themselves, but also in the gums, the temporo-mandibular joint or the muscles that move your jaw. These problems are called 'occlusal' problems. Dental occlusion is another name for the way your teeth meet when your jaws bite together.TeethTeeth that are out of line, heavily worn or constantly breaking, fillings that fracture or crowns that work loose may all be signs of occlusal problems. Your teeth may also be tender to bite on or may ache constantly.GumsLoose teeth or receding gums can be made worse by an incorrect bite.TMJ The letters TMJ are short for 'temporo-mandibular joint', which is the joint connecting your lower jaw and your skull. The movement in this joint lets you open and close your mouth and chew from side to side.Clicking, grinding or pain in your jaw joints, ringing or buzzing in your ears and difficulty in opening or closing your mouth could all be due to your teeth not meeting each other properly.MusclesIf your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move the jaw have to work a lot harder and can get tired. This leads to muscle spasm. The main symptoms are continual headaches or migraine, especially first thing in the morning; pain behind your eyes; sinus pain and pains in your neck and shoulders. Sometimes even back muscles are involved.How can I tell if I have a problem?Many people have imperfect occlusion and missing teeth, yet never have symptoms because they adjust to their problems. Occasionally, in times of increased stress and tension, the symptoms may appear and then go away immediately. Or, your teeth and gums may be affected straight away and, instead of headaches, you may suffer from:flattened, worn teeth broken teeth, fillings and crowns loose teethcontinual sensitivity of your teeth to temperature changetoothache with no apparent cause.If you think you have any of these problems, ask your dentist.You may find that you clench or grind your teeth, although most people who do aren't aware of it. Sometimes this can be caused by anxiety, but generally most people clench their teeth when they are concentrating on a task - housework, gardening, car mechanics, using a keyboard and so on.You may wake up in the morning with a stiff jaw or tenderness when you bite together. This could be due to clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep. Most people who grind their teeth do it while they are asleep and may not know they are doing it.If you suffer from severe headaches, or neck and shoulder pain, you may not have linked this with possible jaw problems. Or you may keep having pain or discomfort on the side of your face around your ears or jaw joints or difficulty in moving your jaw. These are all symptoms of TMJ problems.If you are missing some teeth at the back of your mouth, this may lead to an unbalanced bite, which can cause uneven pressure on your teeth.Together, all these symptoms are called ‘TMJ syndrome'.How are these problems treated?See your dentist. They may be able to help you or may refer you to a specialist who deals with occlusal problems.Depending on the symptoms you are having, it can be possible to spot the signs of an occlusal problem. Various muscles may be sore when tested, or the broken and worn areas of your teeth will show you are grinding your teeth - a common sign of an incorrect bite.RelaxationCounseling and relaxation therapy may help in some cases. These techniques help the patient to become more aware of stressful situations and to control tension.Diet and exerciseAs with any joint pain, it can help to put less stress on the joint. So a soft diet can be helpful, as can corrective exercises and applying heat. Physiotherapy exercises can often help, and your dental team may be able to show some of these to you. Dental GuardThere are ready to wear devices available which are designed to protect the teeth and help prevent the TMJ from clenching and grinding.Tooth adjustment (equilibration)Your teeth may need to be carefully adjusted to meet evenly. Changing the direction and position of the slopes that guide your teeth together can often help to reposition the jaw.If your dentist suspects that your symptoms are due to an incorrect bite, they may help to improve the problem by giving you a hard plastic appliance that fits over your upper or lower teeth. This appliance needs to be measured and fitted very accurately so that when you bite on it, all your teeth meet at exactly the same time in a position where your muscles are relaxed. You may have to wear this all the time or just at night. If the appliance relieves your symptoms then your bite may need to be corrected permanently. Relief in some patients is instant: in others it can take a long time.Replacement of teethThe temporo-mandibular joint needs equal support from both sides of both jaws. The chewing action is designed to work properly only when all your teeth are present and in the correct position. Missing teeth may need to be replaced either with a partial denture or a bridge.Your dentist will not usually replace missing teeth until they are certain you have occlusal problems.MedicationCertain drugs can help in some cases, but this is usually only temporary. Hormone replacement therapy may also help some women.Will straightening my teeth help?If your teeth are too far out of line or in a totally incorrect bite position, you may need to have an orthodontic appliance (brace) fitted to move them into a better position.How many people suffer from these problems?Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms. Both men and women are equally affected, although women tend to ask for treatment more often than men. The symptoms can often start with the menopause or other hormonal changes.

Headache - an Ent Problem?

Dr. Rajesh Kr. Bhardwaj
One of the commonest human ailments is headache.Amongst the various causes of headache, there are many ENT problems that can cause it.Some nasal problems can cause headaches - these are called 'Rhinogenic Headache'.Common ENT problems causing headaches are:- Sinusitis - a sinus infection can cause a headache. The location of the headache will depend upon the sinus involved. Maxillary sinus headaches will cause cheek pain, Ethmoid sinus headaches will be between the eyes, Frontal sinus headaches are over the forehead while Sphenoid sinus infection causes pain over the vertex of the head.Typically a Sinus headache starts in the morning and gradually improves as the day progresses. It is usually at the same place every time, increases on bending forward and also on coughing.Sometimes a Sinus infection may also cause a toothache because the roots of the molars rest in the floor of the Sinus.Apart from the treatment your ENT specialist may prescribe for you, steam Inhalation one to two times a day always helps. - Septal deviation can cause headaches by pressing upon a nerve and causing localised headaches.- Neuralgic pains can cause symptoms of headache - these will be sharp lancinating pains, usually following a trigger like exposure to something cold etc.- Ear infections can cause severe one sided headaches. This is specially so in elderly diabetics.In case in spite of adequate treatment your headache persists, it may be time to see your ENT Specialist.