Headaches are one of the most common ailments of our time, afflicting the nervous system and prevalent among people of all ages, gender, races, income brackets, and geographical location. A headache is characterized by recurrent pain in any head region, often extending to the neck.
A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that almost half of all adults globally experience headaches in any given year.
A headache can be a sign of stress or emotional distress or result from a medical disorder, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. It can be quite a mood-kill and can debilitating your school activities or work and overall quality of life.
Types of Headaches and Their Causes
Headaches can be classified into two types:
- Primary headaches
A primary headache is a direct fallout of overactivity or problems with the pain-sensitive structures in your head and is not rooted in any underlying health condition.
The chemical activity in your brain, the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck (or some combination of these factors) can play a role in primary headaches.
Some people are genetically predisposed to developing this problem.
The most common primary headaches are:
- Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headaches that people get from time to time, either due to lack of sleep, stress, hot and humid weather, or very noisy kids. The causes can be endless. More than 70 percent of the general population experiences occasional tension headaches, according to the WHO.
- According to the WHO, migraine headaches are most common in people between the ages of 35 and 45 and usually begin around puberty. Women, people who have PTSD, and those with a family history of migraines are at an increased risk. Although migraines may be linked to certain conditions afflicting the nervous system, they are often triggered by environmental factors such as chemical exposure, skipped meals, food irritants, hormonal fluctuations, and disrupted sleep.
- Cluster headaches occur due to a neurological condition. Like migraines, they are characterized by pain on one side of the head and around the eye, although the pain associated with cluster headaches is more intense and debilitating. They are recurrent, disruptive of routine activities, and often more severe at nighttime.
- Secondary headaches
A secondary headache is generally symptomatic of a disease that can activate the pain emerging from the sensitive nerves of the head. There are a number of health conditions of varying severity that can trigger secondary headaches.
- A blood clot (venous thrombosis) within the brain – separate from stroke
- A brain aneurysm (a bulge in an artery in your brain)
- Brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – An abnormal formation of brain blood vessels
- Brain tumor
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Chiari malformation (a structural problem at the base of your skull)
- Dental problems
- Ear infection (middle ear)
- Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
- Giant cell arteritis (inflammation of the lining of the arteries)
- Glaucoma (acute angle closure glaucoma)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Influenza (flu) and other febrile (fever) illnesses
- Intracranial hematoma
- Medications to treat other disorders
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Excessive dependence on pain medication
Additional factors that make you susceptible to headaches
Some additional factors that make one susceptible to headaches include:
- Consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine
- Certain foods, such as processed meats that contain nitrates, pickles, and aged cheese
- Erratic sleep patterns or inadequate sleep
- Poor posture
- Skipped meals or staying hungry for too long
- Withdrawal of caffeine
- Exposure to bright lights
- Alterations in the weather or atmospheric pressure
- The annoying pain associated with tension headaches can extend to your eyes, neck, lower back, and other muscles in the surrounding regions.
- Cluster headaches are associated with symptoms such as nasal congestion and watering and swelling of the eyes.
- Migraine headaches are characterized by moderate to severe throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, and distinct smells.
Essential Oils for Relief From Mild Headaches
While headache disorders may require medical attention (especially if symptoms are extremely severe), it is possible to treat them at home by working a little magic with volatile plant extracts known as essential oils.
25 best Essential Oil To Relief Headache
Here are the best essential oils to use to get relief from a headache.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Lavender Cold Compress
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Chamomile Essential Oil
- Frankincense Essential Oil
- Helichrysum Essential Oil
- Lemongrass Essential Oil
- Basil Essential Oil
- Orange Essential Oil
- Clary Sage Essential Oil
- Rose MERRY
- ROMAN CHAMOMILE
- Jojoba oil
- Argan oil
- Avocado oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Magnesium oil
- Coconut oil
- Bergamot oil
- Grapefruit Oil
- Ravintsara Oil
- Spike Lavender oil
Treatment Options to Alleviate Headaches
The course of treatment for your headache problem depends upon various determinants, such as the type, cause, and frequency of headaches. Treatment of severe or chronic cases might call for the need for medications, electronic medical tools, stress management, counseling, etc.
Your doctor will check your symptoms and chalk out the appropriate treatment strategy depending on the underlying cause. This is especially true for secondary headaches, as they will only resolve once the underlying medical problem is treated. As for primary headaches, over-the-counter medications should suffice to provide relief.
Even though painkillers are widely recognized as a quick fix for headaches and more and more people resort to their use at the slightest inconvenience, one should remember that these drugs come with a host of side effects that can be detrimental to your health in the long run.
How to Prevent Headaches
- Do not skip meals or go without eating for long periods.
- In the case of migraine patients, keep track of potential triggers and try your best to avoid them.
- Include moderate exercise in your daily routine to keep your serotonin levels up.
- Maintain optimal fluid intake and keep yourself hydrated. Preferably, cut down on your caffeine consumption as it has a diuretic effect and can aggravate your headache.
- Get adequate sleep, and maintain a steady sleep cycle.
- Get your personal and professional life in order by simplifying your schedule and sticking to it. This will go a long way in saving you from undue stress, which is a common headache trigger.
- Alternative techniques for stress management and reduction, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, can also prove beneficial.
Keep yourself from becoming overly dependent on prescription drugs to manage pain. Excessive use can increase the frequency and severity of your headaches.
- You are strongly advised to lie down in a dark, quiet room for 30 to 45 minutes after using one of the above application methods until your pain subsides. This is the quickest and most effective way of getting rid of a headache.
- Stay away from the brightness and loudness of electronic devices while you are in pain. Resist the temptation to check your phone, log in to your laptop, or sit in front of the television.
- Tie a black or dark-colored cloth over your eyes for increased relaxation and darkness.
- Try to go to sleep for a little while after using the above application methods. A closed mind, one that’s not constantly mired with innumerable thoughts, will heal faster and better. You will wake up refreshed and, hopefully, free of pain.
- It may prove effective to incense your pillow before going to sleep by squirting a few drops of your preferred essential oil on it using a dropper. This will help you sleep better and allow the oil to further palliate the pain even as you sleep.
When to See a Doctor
Although a headache is generally not considered to be life-threatening, in rare cases, it can be indicative of an extremely grave medical condition, such as a stroke, meningitis, or brain tumor.Thus, one should look out for the following indicators, which are telltale signs of a serious headache that merits prompt medical attention:
- A blinding headache of unprecedented intensity that occurs out of the blue
- Unabating and progressively deteriorating pain
- A headache arising in the wake of a severe head injury
- Additional symptoms that can be a worrying sign include high temperature (fever), a stiff neck, a rash, jaw pain while chewing, compromised vision, tenderness in the scalp, and severe pain and redness in one of your eyes
Getting the help of your healthcare provider becomes indispensable if you experience headaches that:
- Show increased frequency of recurrence
- Are unusually intense
- Continue to worsen or fail to subside with appropriate use of over-the-counter drugs
Essential oils are all-natural antidotes, capable of kissing your headaches goodbye without the nasty side effects associated with traditional painkillers.Furthermore, the therapeutic goodness of these oils helps to relax and rejuvenate your entire body. This holistic healing engendered by essential oils, in turn, works to keep stress and other social and psychological headache triggers in check.