What is a headache?
A headache is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. The common forms of headaches you may experience include; migraine headache, tension headaches, and sinusitis.
Migraines are often associated with alternations in vision (flashing lights, zigzag lines in front of the eyes, etc.) and the patient may experience tingling or numbness on one side of the body or in the fingers and arms before a migraine attack starts.
A Migraine Headache usually starts on one side of the head and may not always spread to the whole head. Nausea and vomiting may accompany a migraine headache. Patients may also suffer from pain in bright light during a migraine attack and find relief lying in a darkened room.
Migraine attacks may be triggered by certain foods, emotional, psychological or hormonal factors.
Tension headache is the commonest type of headache, it is a dull ache in the head, and is most often brought on by tension or stress, e.g. pressure at work, or family argument.
Tension headaches are described as a weight pressing on top of the head, a band of tension across the forehead, back of the head and neck or a constant aching or throbbing pain.
Sinusitis is often experienced with a cold or an allergy (e.g. hay fever) and is due to inflammation and swelling of the muscosal lining of the sinuses.
An early morning headache after waking is often a sign of sinusitis. Inflammation of the frontal sinuses causes pain when the forehead is touched at the brow.
Mucous is produced in the sinus, but cannot drain due to the swelling, and the pressure builds up causing pain behind and around the eye, which may be associated with a runny or blocked nose. It is worst on bending forwards or lying down.
Sinusitis can also cause the teeth to ache. Toothache can only be treated in the short term, and the patient should be advised to see the dentist.
Before treating a headache you should be fully sure that the headache fits one of the three types of headaches described above by asking yourself the following questions:
- a) Where does it hurt?
- b) What does it feel like?
- c) How often does it happen?
Headaches & adults:
Paracetamol is usually the most suitable medication for most headaches. Some products are aimed at treating a specific type of headache but may not be suitable in all cases.
For the most effective solution, you should ask your pharmacist for advice.
Headaches & Children
Any child under 12 years with a headache should see the pharmacist, especially after a fall, or with the pain in the back of the head.
Any painkiller taken already to relieve your headache should be noted, as it may have been too weak or inappropriate – if you feel it was appropriate and yet it has not worked, call your local pharmacist.
If you are taking prescription medication ask the pharmacist for treatment advice.
Remember, if you are pregnant or suffering from any illness, it is vital that you tell the pharmacist.
Headache Relief Recommended Products
Many products may help to ease the stress associated with tension headache.
Lavender oil and other essential oils are excellent stress relievers either in the bath or in the pure oil from a diffuser or an oil burner.
- Kalms, a herbal preparation, promotes natural sleep and general relaxation.
- Ginseng is an adaptogen that helps those under unaccustomed stress to adapt to their new situation.
- Sona Vitamin B Complex is an excellent vitamin supplement for those under unaccustomed stress.
Toothache relief – A good painkiller plus a Medicare Hot & Cold Pack on the face and something to apply topically such as the local anaesthetic Anbesol may considerably ease the pain. For future use, the patient may also require a good toothbrush, toothpaste and a mouthwash.
Headache Practical Advice:
- Those with toothache should see a dentist as soon as possible and may be advised on diet or dental hygiene.
- Headaches that occur during periods of reading, writing or other close work may be due to deteriorating eyesight and a sight test may be worth bearing in mind.
- Some nasal decongestants (those with an ingredient called oxymetazoline or xylometazoline) should not be used for more than 7 days without a break. Continuing treatment may cause a condition called rebound congenstion which will not respond to decongestants.
- Due to regulatory guidelines, not all painkillers will be on display in the pharmacy or on sale on websites. Your pharmacist can still advise you on the most suitable pain relief medication.