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Advil stands for fast relief. This guide was created to assist you in finding the type of headache you have according to your symptoms, taking proper action against the pain and learning how to prevent future mistakes.
Severe pain on one side of the
head, usually recurring in groups
or clusters. Cluster headaches
must be treated by a physician.
OTHER SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
OTHER SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
OTHER SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
Headaches are among the most common pain-related conditions, with one half to three quarters of the world's adults experiencing a migraine or other type of headache in the past year.*
Watch Charles Pollack, MD, PhD, explain the differences between headache types and find
out what you can do to relieve your pain.
*World Health Organization, Lifting the Burden. Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization; May 2011.
Hunger, poor posture, eyestrain and lack of sleep can be tension headache triggers. Get adequate rest, don't skip meals and be aware of the following guidelines to help avoid poor posture and eyestrain.
Allergies or sensitivity to substances in our environment can cause muscle contraction or vascular headaches. Known allergens and sensitizers run the gamut from nicotine in tobacco to everyday foods and food additives. Some common foods that have been linked to headaches include cheese (except cottage cheese), chocolate, citrus, onions, eggplant, bay leaf, chili and cinnamon, and foods that are fried, fatty, pickled or processed. Coloring agents or flavor enhancers that can provoke tension or vascular headaches can be found in salami, hot dogs, bacon, ham, dairy products, beer and wine. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), the flavor enhancer sometimes used in Chinese food, can provoke headaches. Caffeine in coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and chocolate can lead to headaches if you consume an excessive amount or if you abruptly stop using it. Alcohol in wine, champagne, beer and hard liquor also can trigger headaches.
What to do
Carefully monitor your diet to pinpoint the exact foods that may cause your headaches. Even if a reaction may not show up for hours or days, it is possible to recognize patterns in the occurrence of your headaches. If you believe certain foods are causing a headache, eliminate them and monitor your headaches.
Human emotions may be a trigger for tension headaches. Reactions such as anger and psychological states like anxiety are commonly blamed.
A path to pain relief!
Preventive measures are key in avoiding headaches. But if you do end up with a tension headache, most doctors recommend the use of an OTC pain reliever such as Advil®, which contains ibuprofen. As with any medication, it's important to read the label before using it.
In addition to an OTC pain reliever, relaxation techniques are a good way to reduce headache pain since they are an outlet for emotional and physical tension. Techniques range from simple exercises, such as deep breathing and brisk walking, to mind-control disciplines, such as meditation and biofeedback. Below are some tried and true methods.
Massage loosens the “kinks” in muscles and ligaments. You can massage your own head, neck and shoulder area, though, ideally, it is most relaxing to have someone else massage you. Techniques include rubbing and kneading and applying pressure to specific areas of the body.
This relaxation technique can be done anywhere. Take slow, deep breaths, inhaling from the diaphragm rather than from the chest. Breathe through your nose, gradually filling your lungs with oxygen. Exhale slowly and completely. Too much deep breathing can make you feel light-headed or lead to hyperventilation, so don't overdo it.
Meditation can provide physical and emotional benefits. Ideally, meditate for one or two 20-minute sessions each day in a quiet place. There are several ways to meditate, and it's best to consult with a professional who can provide proper training techniques.
Physical activity can reduce stress and make tension headaches less painful and less frequent. Exercise regularly: Try for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes three times a week. Stretch and work the muscles with an activity you enjoy—it can be anything from brisk walking to aerobic dancing or swimming.
This technique teaches you to be aware of—and to control—bodily reactions, including headache pain. During biofeedback, a special machine called an electromyograph (EMG) measures the tension level in certain muscles. Progressive relaxation exercises, in which you focus on the tension in certain parts of your body and then "release" the tension in each part, are helpful in conjunction with biofeedback. Your physician can refer you to a biofeedback practitioner who can develop a specific program that meets your needs.
While the minor tension headache is the most common type of headache, there are other, more serious, types, including migraine, cluster and sinus headaches, as well as headaches resulting from illness or injuries. Most headaches do not require medical attention, but there are situations when a physician should be consulted.
Contact a physician if your headaches: