To Your Health
March, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 03)
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Headache Help

Treating the Top 5 Types of Headaches

By Zhenya K. Wine

Most of us can say we've experienced a headache. My question is: Do you know what type of headache you suffered and the best way to address it naturally?

Headaches are the most self-diagnosed and self-medicated dysfunction in the U.S., with an estimated half-billion dollars spent on headache cures in just the past year. More than 60 million people made a visit to the doctor's office last year because they thought their headache was severe enough to seek treatment, but only 2 percent of these were caused by brain tumors, hypertension or other serious conditions. Although we can differentiate between dozens of headaches, here are the top five, along with a few natural treatment options.

Cluster Headaches

Let's begin with a discussion of vascular headaches. Cluster headaches and migraines both are vascular in nature, which means the headache comes from within the cranium. A cluster headache is a stabbing pain that occurs on one side of the head, and often is local to one temple or behind one eye. These painful attacks occur every day or several times a day for weeks or months, and can last from 15 minutes to three hours.

A middle aged woman holding her head suffering from a headache. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Men are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches. The first attack of a cluster headache usually starts in patients 20-30 years of age. Heavy smokers are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches, but unlike migraine headaches, they are not familial (i.e., they do not run in the family). Although this headache starts behind one eye, it may radiate into the temple, nose, jaw, chin or teeth. One of the most common signs is a drooping eyelid, as well as tearing or red eyes on the side of the headache. Other symptoms include runny or stuffy nose and facial sweating, which occur on the side of the pain.

The two types of cluster headaches are episodic and chronic. An episodic cluster headache is followed by a long-term remission that is pain-free. A chronic cluster headache has no more than a one-week, headache-free period within a year. Only 10 percent to 20 percent of all cluster headaches are chronic. Most can be treated by simply administering oxygen for 10-15 minutes and abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Since most people who suffer from cluster headaches do not have good sleep patterns, another way to prevent the cluster headache from occurring is to establish a routine sleep pattern.

Migraine Headaches

A migraine is not a simple headache, but a biochemical dysfunction that can affect the entire body. Although it might last 4-72 hours, it's not a daily headache. We differentiate between common and classic migraines. A classic migraine has five stages: prodrome, aura, headache, resolution and postdrome, whereas common migraine sufferers may not experience prodrome or aura.