Headaches: What are they and what causes them? Headaches can be caused by numerous numbers of things and my clients constantly ask me how to help themselves when these come.

Firstly it is important to differentiate a Headache from a Migraine. A headache usually only lasts a couple of hours and is mostly defined by some type of pressure feeling along the head. Migraines tend to come usually, although not always, with an Aura, or a feeling that you are about to have one and these can last a whole day and are more intense. For simplicity let us focus here on typical headaches and how these usually come about. 

These can be triggered by a number of factors such as:

  • Dehydration 
  • Fatigue
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Extreme Stress
  • Visual fatigue (such as looking into a computer monitor for too long or any other electronic device)
  • Hunger
  • Neck Subluxations/Cranial Subluxations
  • Trauma to the head or neck
  • Prolonged poor posture
  • Poor sleep or lack of sleep
  • Chemical toxicity (a drug you may be taking or a food sensitivity)

Since the most common factors tell us easily what these are caused by, we can address them accordingly.

Dehydration: Is the most common factor in my opinion. We do not notice and realise that by the time we become thirsty we have been already been dehydrated for some time. It is also worth mentioning that sometimes hunger is thirst in disguise so worth having a glass of water before reaching for some crisps which can in turn aggravate your headache.

Fatigue: Is an obvious thing and most of us can recognise this as a precursor from previous episodes. So just rest and lay down in a quiet room with low level lighting to calm your nervous system.

Mental exhaustion and stress: These can be put into one category together as they are very similar. So put that project down and just take a break, take a walk in nature if you can as we are designed to be with nature. Focusing on a task for pronged periods of time can trigger your headache but most often these are accompanied by other previously mentioned triggers such as poor posture, dehydration, hunger or visual fatigue from looking into an electronic device for too long. Having said that it will be wise to take frequent breaks from sitting at your desk, move your neck around and watch the posture you are working to avoid this type of fatigue which can easily trigger a headache. These type of headaches are usually described as pain on the frontal area or behind one eye or both, sometimes radiating into the temporal area.

Neck Subluxations: Can be easily detected and corrected by your Chiropractor. These types of headaches start usually in my experience in the lower or upper part of the neck and travel up to the top of the head or stay in your occipital area. Cranial subluxations are caused by tension in the Dura or Meninges covering your brain and spinal cord. These types of headaches can be alleviated by a Craniopath or Chiropractor who specialises in cranial adjustments.

Chemical toxicity: It is worth noting that most drugs can dehydrate your bodies and this is easily seen in your stools as you may become constipated or have stomach pains or irritation in your stomach. So, ask your GP or take the time to read the most common side effects of the medications you are taking and ensure you drink plenty of water when doing so. 

Food sensitivities: Certain foods can trigger a headache. The most common ones are: 

Alcohol, dairy products such as aged cheeses, caffeinated drinks, peanuts and peanut butter, most beans, pizza, tomato based sauces and products. Products containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) a flavour enhancer found on canned soups, bouillon. Nitrates which are mostly found in cured meats such as ham, turkey or chicken cuts, crisps, products containing Yeast. The list is longer than this but luckily it is said that about 20% of people are sensitive to these products and thus common headache triggers. So, do not empty your fridge yet!

Of course headaches can be also caused by a number of other medical causes and it is wise to see your Doctor if the symptoms of these can not be alleviated by the above mentioned factors. This can indicate a more serious issue that should be investigated further by Diagnostic tests such as a CT or MRI scan.

Author: Arthur Tovar 30/01/2020

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