what-is-a-headache

It sounds like a simple question, and yet there is a great deal of misunderstanding over what a headache is. Therefore, we’re going to address the answer to the question: What is a headache? In doing so, we will take a closer look at headache symptoms as well as the elusive search for a natural treatment for headaches. Our discussion should provide you with hope that natural resolution of your headaches may be nearer than you think.

Headaches – The Most Basics Definition

While there are two different definitions for the word headache, we’re talking about the medical term. In this case, a headache quite literally refers to pain in the head. That seems simple enough. So why do we have to discuss the symptoms of a headache? Isn’t head pain the only symptom that matters?

Headache Symptoms – Why So Important?

The fact is that other symptoms that accompany a headache can help determine what kind of headache it is. It can also help to determine whether a person is dealing with a primary headache or a secondary headache. What is the difference?

  • Primary Headaches – The headache itself is the disorder. This would include conditions such as tension headaches, cluster headaches, and the like.
  • Secondary Headaches – These are headaches that are merely a symptom of a larger underlying condition. Examples would include migraines, head or neck injuries, sinus headaches, ocular headaches, stroke, and other headache causing conditions.

Thus, it becomes clear that other symptoms play a key role in the diagnosis of a headache. With that in mind, no one is likely to have all of the symptoms on this list. However, just 2 or 3 of the symptoms may be all it takes for a doctor to recognize the source of the headache:

  • A dull throb or ache circling the entire head
  • A pulsing or pounding pain on one or both sides of the head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain behind one eye
  • Sharp pain at the temples
  • Pain on one side accompanied by a watery eye
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Daily pain
  • Pain that gets worse with exertion
  • Sinus congestion
  • Slurred speech
  • Visual disturbances
  • Dental pain
  • Vertigo

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of every type of symptom that could occur along with a headache. It does, however, give you an idea of the things that are pertinent when explaining your headache to a doctor. Don’t leave out a symptom because you don’t think it is related.

Is There Natural Treatment for Headaches?

When you think about headache treatment, the first thing that probably comes to mind is an over-the-counter drug such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. What is wrong with reaching for a couple of pills every time a headache springs up?

The fact is that these medications are only intended for occasional use. They say it right on the bottle. However, when a person has a chronic headache issue, there can be a nasty side effect to these medications – rebound headaches.

That’s right – the very pills someone is taking to stop one headache is causing the next one. In fact, some experts believe that medication overuse is one of the most common factors in the onset of chronic daily headache conditions. The only way to know just how many of your headaches are being caused by the pills is to quit them for a week or two and see how much the frequency of the headaches drops.

It’s no wonder then that people are looking for a natural way to deal with headaches. Here are some of the home remedies that people are trying:

  • Dietary changes – One major cause of headaches is food sensitivities. As a result, people are cutting everything from gluten to dairy products out of their diet in an attempt to break free from headaches and just feel better in general. If you have a food sensitivity, definitely stay away from that particular food. If not, changing your diet is unlikely to affect your headaches.
  • Essential Oils – From aromatherapy to using oils topically, many people swear by the benefits of peppermint oil, lavender oil, and several others. The fact is that many headaches are triggered by stress, and these oils may help reduce stress levels (especially if accompanied by a relaxing massage). They still don’t get to the root of the problem though.
  • Supplements – Vitamin B6, magnesium, and the list goes on. People are taking all sorts of supplements to solve their headaches. If the headaches are due to a deficiency, this is a great way to take care of such an issue.  
  • Drinking Water – Sadly, many people get headaches just because they don’t drink enough water. Try using an app to track your water intake. If you are drinking 8-12 glasses per day and still get headaches, then this isn’t the right option for you (although you should definitely keep drinking the water).
  • Exercise – Exercise reduces stress and helps the body cope with pain. Plus, it can strengthen your spine, which is a plus since many headaches are related to the neck.
  • Upper Cervical Chiropractic – This is a niche in the chiropractic field that specifically targets the top two bones in the neck. They play a vital role in brainstem function, facilitating blood flow to the brain, and allowing for cerebrospinal fluid drainage. It is no wonder that many people report fewer and less severe migraines even after their first visit.

If you are suffering from headaches, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, we encourage you to give upper cervical chiropractic a try. Start by finding a practitioner in your local area by using the search feature.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.