What You Need to Know About Chronic Headaches
If you have chronic headaches, you know they can really put a damper on your mood and overall well-being. But what exactly is a headache? Essentially, it’s an alert that something is wrong somewhere else in your body. The cause of your headache could be something serious like illness or injury, or something more easily addressed like dehydration.
Types of Headaches
There are many types of headaches that can produce pain. Let’s focus on the most common (and the ones that can be helped with a visit to Dr. Levi!)
These are the most universal type of headache that almost everyone has experienced. They can be caused by stress or tightness in other parts of your body like your neck.
Your sinuses are the air-filled pockets in your forehead, temples and behind the bridge of your nose. When they get clogged due to infection or allergies, the pressure can create a headache.
The World Health Organization estimates there are 20 million migraine attacks happening every day. This much more severe type of headache can be very debilitating and last for hours or even days.
These types of headaches aren’t very common and are often the result of a neck injury. They usually start with a pain on one side of the back of the head that then moves to the front. The headaches can be accompanied by shoulder or arm pain on the side where the headache started.
An aching all around the head including the jaw and cheeks could be due to a temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition is frequently caused by injuries from motor vehicle accidents and/or trauma to the head, neck and jaw.
Pain from a typical tension headache usually presents in the following ways:
- Slow onset
- Head hurting on both sides equally
- Dull, squeezed feeling
- Level is mild to moderate, but not severe
Severe pain, nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light may be symptoms of more serious headaches like migraines.
When Does a Headache Signal an Emergency?
You should seek emergency help if you experience:
- A headache that lasts more than three days
- “The worst” headache you’ve ever had
- Neck stiffness
- A severe headache that comes on quickly and seemingly out of nowhere
- A headache after a head injury
- Slurred speech, vision issues, disrupted balance or confusion
These symptoms could indicate a serious condition, and you should head to the emergency room as soon as possible.
Why Do I Get Daily Headaches?
Headaches can occur due to an illness or injury, but many times the cause is environmental or psychological. In those cases, if you can figure out the triggers that bring on headaches you can begin to make changes to avoid them.
Common Headache Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Stress can cause tension in the muscles in your neck and shoulders which can then make its way into the nerves in your head.
Getting your stress level in check with some stress management techniques.
2. Hunger and dehydration
Low blood sugar and not enough electrolytes and fluids can cause headaches.
Staying on top of hydrating yourself throughout the day and eating on a regular schedule so your body doesn’t feel like it’s running on empty.
3. Poor diet
Foods that have a lot of sugar or are highly processed can trigger headaches. Certain foods like bananas, cheese, chocolate, citrus, cured meats, dairy products, onions and items with MSG have been proven to cause migraines more often in those that suffer.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods with few additives and preservatives. If you are prone to migraines, avoid the trigger foods.
4. Getting too much sun
Have you ever had a headache after a day at the beach? The bright light and high temps from the sun are known to cause headaches in some people.
Drinking lots of water and watching your time in the sun. Wear sunglasses and a hat, and be careful of overexertion.
A hangover headache is pretty well-known, but even just a little bit of red wine or other alcohol can trigger migraines.
Watch your alcohol intake and be sure to drink lots of water along with your cocktail.
6. Too little or too much sleep
Everyone knows you need to get enough sleep for a variety of health reasons, including preventing headaches. But did you know that too much sleep can bring on headaches as well?
Catching just the right amount of ZZZs. Experts say healthy adults should get seven to nine hours a night. As tempting as it may be to stay up late or sleep in on weekends, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Changes in barometric pressure can bring on headaches since more pressure is being put on your sinuses.
Controlling the weather. OK, since that’s not possible, following the weather report and bringing along medication to help alleviate the pain is probably your best bet.
8. Too much screen time
We’ve all felt exhausted after a long day of looking at our computer or phone. Some people also have headaches due to eye strain and the bright lights that are emitted from the screen.
Wear blue light blocking glasses and take lots of breaks in the day where you aren’t looking at a screen.
9. Poor posture
Bad posture causes strain and misalignment in your upper back, neck and shoulders, which can lead to a headache.
Exercising, stretching, making posture corrections throughout the day and being aware of your neck position when using technology.
If you have chronic headaches, it can be helpful to keep a journal recording when they occur and the circumstances surrounding them. How much sleep did you get the night before? What did you eat? Had you just been playing video games for hours? By documenting the factors that contribute to your headaches you may begin to see a pattern that can help you eliminate the triggers in the future.
How Can I Treat Headaches?
An ice pack, a quick nap, and drinking sufficient water should be helpful.
Headache Treatment with Chiropractic Care
Many chronic headaches can be treated by a trained chiropractor like Dr. Levi. Tension headaches, migraines, sinus headaches, TMJ and especially cervicogenic headaches can be reduced over time with chiropractic treatment. Common therapies include spinal manipulation, joint mobilization, soft tissue release, trigger point therapy and massage.
Headache Treatment in Maryland
At Levi Chiropractic, we diagnose and treat many types of headaches. By using a holistic approach to get to the root cause of a headache, Dr. Levi is able to provide long-term solutions for his patients. Are headaches affecting the quality of your life? Dr. Levi may be the solution you’ve been searching for.