If you are prone to repeated migraines and headaches, here’s how to find out what causes them and some expert-proven tips on how to get relief.
Headaches are one of the most common conditions which people all around the world suffer from. It is estimated that nearly 50% of the world’s population have suffered or are suffering from headaches. According to a list released by the World Health Organization, It is ranked as the top 10 (in men) and top 5 (in women) causes of disability. Headaches may come and go, but there is no doubt that there are unusual causes that trigger this painful condition. Here are some of those causes which you might not have even thought would be the reason why you’re having such a bad headache:
Sunlight and Vitamin D Deficiency
Studies from the University of Eastern Finland reveal that the risk of chronic headaches is increased if your body is lacking vitamin D. The serum vitamin D levels were analyzed, by scientists, in nearly 2,600 people. It was found that people with low levels of serum vitamin D were susceptible to developing chronic headaches, more so than others. Frequent instances of chronic headaches were reported by men after being examined in seasons other than summer. This was due to the fact that the solar radiation is much less in other seasons as compared to summer.
Sometimes bright light can be the unusual stimulus to headaches and people experiencing this will retreat to dark rooms to avoid the light. Studies conducted by the Beth Israel Medical Center have been successful in identifying the novel connections between both neurons in the eyes as well as those in the brains. These neurons are also responsible for controlling our mood in physical parameters like fatigue, the heart rate, nausea and shortness of breath. Besides headaches, bright light also causes anxiety, anger, annoyance, and desperation. In fact, participants of the research revealed that they experienced shortness of breath, discomfort, and nausea.
Thunder and Lightning
To determine whether lightning caused the frequency of headaches to increase or if other weather factors were responsible, mathematical models were used by the scientists within the University of Cincinnati for this. The tests, after factoring in all weather conditions, indicated a 19% higher chance of getting headaches on days with lightning. This showed that lightning does affect people’s chances of getting headaches. It is still unclear as to why lightning and meteorological factors such as barometric pressure and humidity trigger headaches, as pointed out by Geoffrey Martin. However, these studies have still been able to prove the connection between lightning and how it can cause headaches.
Depression and Anxiety
The most common reasons for what causes headaches are depression, unhealthy sleep, and anxiety. Studies from the National Defense Medical Center in Taiwan have also pointed out that a common pathophysiological mechanism causes the frequency of headaches to be influenced by emotional distress. This can be better understood by how certain signaling pathways causes pain perception and modulation to be altered by emotional responses. In fact, the outcome of this research has offered suggestions on how treating headaches might prevent anxiety and depression in patients suffering from migraines.
Medicines Containing Codeine
An Adelaide University study found that consuming large doses of codeine-based medicines can potentially increase the risk of serious headaches. Patients with a high sensitivity to pain experience frequent headaches. In fact, users of opioid drugs only further decrease their tolerance for pain thereby making them unable to get any real relief. Since pain sensitivity is a major issue for them, opioid drugs only worsen their problem.
There is a connection between obesity, headaches and migraines, and certain other headache conditions like idiopathic intracranial hypertension. This has been confirmed by studies conducted at the John Hopkins University. Furthermore, if people in their reproductive ages gain excess weight, it can lead to the widespread of migraines. This means that periodic headaches can turn chronic if the body mass index keeps increasing. The solution to this would be to engage in physical activities and weight-loss programs.
At the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology, scientists have noted that headaches can result from a person’s adaptability to cold temperatures. Another highlight as stated by Felix Keys suggests that evolutionary pressures of the past have an impact on present-day phenotypes in cold environments. Low temperatures even affect the blood circulation due to the occurrence of cerebral vessel spasms owing to the cold. Cold temperatures cause blood oxygen levels to drop thereby resulting in people experiencing headaches and migraines.
There are many different types of headaches and each one has its own specific treatment. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify them and so here are the different types of headaches.
Common Primary Headaches
Migraine: Migraines occur frequently in women and can directly affect your everyday life. It is usually identified as a throbbing painful headache often located on only one side of the head and can be stimulated by stress, flashing lights, hormones, environmental factors, anxiety, and specific compounds.
Tension: One of the most common factors for headaches is tension, as it makes the muscles that cover the skull contract. Stress causes the muscles to get inflamed and induce pain. Tension-Headaches are mainly triggered by fatigue, poor posture, keeping the head in an awkward position, and stress.
Cluster: Cluster headaches though rare, have the tendency to occur on a daily basis, sometimes for weeks on end. However, there are times that follow when you are free of these for months before they strike again. It isn’t yet known what causes such headaches but scientists feel it could be the result of the chemicals serotonin and histamine suddenly being released within the brain.
Now, how to get rid of these nasty headaches or at least make them bearable is not too hard. Just follow these effective tips:
Caffeine has a variety of benefits including medical properties. Caffeine acts as a painkiller for headaches whereas applying ice or cold water can only make it worse. The potency of caffeine increases if taken along with analgesics as suggested by the clinical studies of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In fact, quitting caffeine totally can prove to be a wrong move as it may cause even more instances of headaches. Especially those who are used to consuming coffee nearly every morning, if they suddenly stop, they may experience a headache.
Acupuncture is well known therapeutic treatment for headaches. According to research at the Technical University of Munich, acupuncture can prevent chronic headaches and reduce tension. After comparing the results of acupuncture in comparison to sham acupuncture in 7 trials, 51% of the participants witnessed a 50% lower headache frequency. Results were even better after six more months of treatment.
Greenlight has proved to be effective in countering headaches as declared by scientists at the Harvard Medical School. It reduces photophobia, the severity of headaches, and sensitivity to light. People, with acute headache problems, who participated in the trial researches, were asked to report any difference in their condition after being exposed to varying intensities of green, blue, red and amber light. The participants stated that their headaches intensified when they were in a well-lit room and were exposed to colors other than green. Greenlight was also found to be good at reducing pain by an estimate of 20%, as declared by Professor Rami Burstein and Colleagues.
The efficiency of yoga and standardized meditation in reducing stress in adults suffering from migraines has been assessed through research under the Wake Forest Medical Center. The findings showed that meditation practitioners had less-severe migraine trends. In addition, participants experienced less disabling headaches, which occurred for shorter durations. They more or less could even control their migraines. Meditation also seems to have no reported adverse effects.
Monosodium Glutamate is known to be capable of stimulating a headache. Hence, foods containing this chemical should be avoided, as stated by MD Vincent Martin. Foods that could contain this are mainly processed stuff comprising of canned and frozen products, snacks, BBQ sauces and ketchup, salad dressings and even cheese and cottage cheese. It would be better to eat organic and fresh fruits and vegetables with certain different kinds of meat. Quitting alcohol would be equally beneficial as alcohol is one of the foremost headache triggers. Red Wine and Vodka are high in histamine and thus are considered to be very harmful.
Dark-lens sunglasses are usually recommended for those who suffer from photophobia and headaches. However, there were some who reported that this method wasn’t comfortable or useful in some cases. To determine if colored sunglasses had any possible effects on people suffering from headaches, the scientists at the University of Cincinnati devised a study to assess such a case. The reports declared that 85% of the patients with photophobia were relieved from such symptoms. The glasses were found to be good at mitigating bright light. It could even be worn indoors to improve the conditions and bring about maximum relief to those suffering from light sensitivity or photophobia.