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Headaches and their Origins

Headaches have been a medical mystery for centuries. Ancient healers treated them with herbs like Feverfew and Chamomile. Today, a huge amount of research time and dollars are poured into head pain studies. This condition is so prevalent, that "cures" come and go, yet millions of people are still plagued with this mystifying and agonizing problem.

In the 1800's, headaches were primarily treated with laudanum, an extremely addictive opiate. The patient was perhaps relieved of the pain but acquired an equally-devastating addiction to the drug. Today, headaches are never treated with opiate medication; not only is the risk of addiction extreme, but in fact opiates have a "rebound" effect which causes the throbbing to recur within hours.

Modern medicine suggests that headaches have many origins and that their intensity and frequency is based solely upon the individual physiology, gender, age, and heredity of the afflicted. Not every treatment is right for every patient. Often it is a matter of "hit and miss" for the physician or neurologist, trying one protocol and then another until the patient is relieved of pain.

What are Some Origins of Headaches?

First, headaches appear to be attributable to your heredity; if a first-degree relative had this condition, you may be more prone to develop it either in adolescence or early adulthood. This is especially true for women, who tend to have more headaches in general than men.

Once a pattern develops, it is likely to continue throughout your life. Knowing this, your physician may suggest that you try a medication like Inderal (a medication for hypertension) that may lessen the frequency and severity of your pain. This treatment works for some, but not for others.

Second, head pain can be caused by serious medical conditions such as stroke, hypertension, meningitis, and even a brain tumor. If you experience a sudden-onset head pain that is the most intense pain you've ever felt, you need immediate medical attention! Call 911 and get to the ER as soon as possible; this type of pain is not normal, even for those prone to headaches.

Third, throbbing head pain can be caused by stress-related muscle tension, poor body posture, poor vision, sustained loud noise, a sinus infection, too much sun, too much cold, pre-menstrual syndrome, hunger, consumption of too much alcohol, some kinds of foods, menopause, medication side-effects, or insomnia. These are headaches that respond well to appropriate medications and changes in lifestyle behavior.

How Can I Tell What Kind of Headaches I Have?

On your own, you can't. Recurrent head pain needs to be evaluated by a physician, usually a neurologist. Your physician will take a complete history of your experience with head pain such as time of initial onset, frequency, severity, history of head injury, what makes them worse, what makes them better, all medications you're taking, your eating and exercise habits, your occupational history, your current interpersonal relationships, and other medical conditions for which you're being treated. Your neurologist will probably order a brain scan to rule out tumors that could be the cause of your pain. The general rule is "Look for the obvious, then for the hidden."

If you suffer from chronic headaches, this condition may affect the rest of your life. It may be just as much a part of your "body picture" as your need for glasses and your high blood pressure medication. The important thing to remember is that although there is no sure-fire "cure" or prevention of headaches, they don't need to dominate your life. It's imperative that you consult your physician about this condition so you can live your life normally and in good health.

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VISITOR COMMENTS on "Headaches and their Origins":

Balu said,
20th January 07
It is good web site for giving lot information about all headaches....

Pawan said,
23rd January 07
Very Informative site

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