20 Jan

Dull or throbbing, a headache is serious business.

Since the beginning of this year, I cannot count all the calls I’ve received from clients suffering from headaches.  Folks have been hurting tremendously from the left-over holiday tension and this overgrown allergy season.

In fact, over 10 million people seek headache relief from their doctors annually.  Headaches account for 157 million missed work hours each year.  This pain in the neck and head costs us dearly in our daily quality of life and real money from work and school absenteeism.

Fortunately, not everyone gets headaches.  But for those who do, all they really want is to get relief as soon as possible.

To crack the code on headaches, we first must figure out what is causing them.

There are 3 kinds of headaches.

Common Headache: Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches caused by overall muscle tension, everyday pressures and anxiety.  When you feel this headache coming on, it helps to take note of the headache and make a conscious effort to relax your neck and let your shoulders fall.  Deep breaths and a glass of water may be all you need to let the pressure off.  Relax, let go.

Missed meals, weather changes, hormones and mental stress can cause headaches so make sure to schedule some time to relax, put your feet up for a few minutes and eat well each day.

Sinus headaches also fall into this common category.  Allergies, the common cold and viral infections can be a pain in the neck, literally.  This is when drinking enough water is especially important since sinus inflammation leads so easily to dehydration.

Nutritional deficiencies can also be a cause of the common headache.  I had a personal experience with this when I was 18 years old.  Being a teenager, I knew very little about natural health but I had been reading about nutrition for a few months.  It was like some fascinating foreign language.

I had gone to the movie with friends one night and eaten every kind of over-salted junk food available.  By the time I got home, my head was aching.  Even laying down didn’t help and my head hurt so much I could not even sleep.  Finally, as the sun was rising the next morning, it dawned on me that I had read how a potassium deficiency can cause major headaches.  I searched back over all the salt I had consumed and realized that since sodium (salt) and potassium are synergistic (balance each other) then I must have tipped the scales too far in favor of sodium, making myself deficient in potassium.

Checking the medicine cabinet, I found a bottle of potassium.  The little tablets were 99 mg each.  The directions suggested 2 tablets were a safe dosage, so I took them.  Within 15 minutes, my head felt fine, as if I had never had the headache in the first place.

If you have a potassium deficiency, taking the daily allowance of potassium in supplement form can be better than any headache medicine on the market.  Ask your physician to test your mineral levels soon.

Migraine Headaches: Migraines are debilitating.  Severe throbbing, nausea, vomiting and an extreme sensitivity to light, sound and smell are all symptoms of migraine headaches.  This kind of headache usually concentrates itself on one side of the head or in a particular area, such as behind the eyes or above the left eyebrow.  Physical activity can increase the pain and make migraines worse.  Prior to a migraine attack, some people experience visual disturbances known as “auras” that can look like bright lights or jagged lines.  Migraine headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

In my own practice, I have found that many women suffer from migraines due to anemia, a severe iron deficiency.  In the old days, Blackstrap Molasses was given to cure anemia.  This kind of mineral-rich molasses is still sold at your local health food store.  Doctors can also check for anemia and prescribe iron if necessary.

Cluster Headaches: The most painful headaches are cluster headaches.  This type of headache appears in cycles that can last hours or days.  Presenting suddenly, they usually end as quickly as they start.  Less than one percent of the population suffers these types of headaches with the first onset usually affecting people between the ages of 20 to 30 years old.

Other symptoms of cluster headaches are deep stabbing pains around the temple or eyes, a stuffy or runny nose and tearing red eyes with drooping eyelids.

About 99% of headaches are harmless.  However, it is important you see a doctor for any type of headache that interferes with your daily life.  In addition, you should seek medical attention immediately if a severe headache comes on suddenly or if it is accompanied by a fever, stiff neck, numbness, confusion, seizure or difficulty speaking.  Some of these symptoms may be associated with an aneurism.  Immediate medical help is indispensable.  Finally, see a doctor for any severe headache that follows a blow to the head, coughing, sudden movement or exertion.

Good health to you.

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