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Headaches & Migraines

Do you suffer from Headaches or Migraines?

Headaches & Migraines Brunswick NaturopathyThese are two of the most common health complaints that people come to see me with. Nearly all headaches can improve with diet and lifestyle changes along with some herbal or nutritional support.

First let’s find out what sort of headaches you are suffering from and what is causing them.

Tension Headaches

These are the most common type of headaches, and are likely caused by tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw. They may be related to stress, injury, depression, anxiety, or holding your head and neck in an abnormal position. Your neck, shoulders, or jaw may feel sore or tight. Triggers of tension headaches include alcohol use, caffeine (too much or withdrawal), colds, the flu, or a sinus infection, dental problems, jaw clenching or teeth grinding, eye strain, fatigue or overexertion.

Sinus Headaches

These cause pain in the front of your head and face. They are due to swelling in the sinus passages behind the cheeks, nose, and eyes. The pain tends to be worse when you bend forward and when you first wake up in the morning.  These may also occur if you have a cold or flu or hay fever allergy.

Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache usually begins as a severe, sudden headache that can begin while sleeping. The pain occurs on one side of the head and may be described as burning, sharp, constant, and may affect the eye.  Cluster headaches can be triggered by alcohol, cigarette smoking, high altitudes, bright light (including sunlight), exertion, heat (hot weather, hot baths), foods high in nitrites (preserved meats), and certain medications.

Migraine Headaches

These are severe headaches that usually occur with other symptoms, such as vision changes, light sensitivity, nausea or vomiting. The pain may be throbbing, pounding, or pulsating and usually lasts 6-48 hours. Some people experience an aura (vision disturbances), prior to the migraine. Migraine triggers include stress and anxiety, caffeine withdrawal, changes in hormone levels, lack of sleep or changes in sleep patterns, exercise or physical stress, missing meals, smoking or exposure to smoke, perfume or other odors, bright lights or glare. They can be triggered by foods such as those containing tyramine including red wine, aged cheese, chocolate, meats containing nitrates (cured or processed meats, salami, hot dogs, bacon), or other food additives such as MSG and aspartame.

Rebound Headaches

These are headaches that keep coming back and may occur from overuse of painkillers. These may also be called medication overuse headaches. Patients who take pain medication more than 3 days a week on a regular basis can develop this type of headache.

More Serious Headaches

Rarely, a headache may be a sign of a more serious cause. Call your health care provider if:

  • This is your first headache and it interferes with your daily activities
  • Your headache comes on suddenly and is explosive or violent
  • It is the worst headache ever, even if you regularly get headaches
  • You also have slurred speech, a change in vision or alertness, problems moving your arms or legs, loss of balance, confusion, seizures or memory loss
  • Your headache gets worse over a 24-hour period
  • You also have a fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting with your headache
  • Your headache occurs with a head injury
  • Your headache is severe and just in one eye, with redness in that eye
  • You are over age 50 and your headaches just began, especially if you also have vision problems and pain while chewing
  • You have cancer and develop a new headache

How can I help with headaches?

Severe Headache - Brunswick NaturopathyI will take a medical history and perform an examination of your head, eyes, ears, nose, throat and neck to help assess your headaches and triggers.

Assessment and treatment will aim to:

  • Help you to identify triggers and causing factors
  • Support you through an elimination diet if necessary
  • Implement an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce headache or migraine frequency
  • Assess and regulate hormonal factors that may be contributing
  • Assess and improve sleep patterns
  • Assess posture, circulation and muscle tension
  • Support the nervous system and help reduce anxiety and tension
  • Regulate blood sugar levels which may be contributing
  • Improve digestion and liver detoxification – often contributing factors
  • Assess and support good blood pressure
  • Help to reduce your use of pain relieving mediations if overuse, which may even be contributing to your headaches
  • Provide herbs and supplements known to prevent headaches and migraines

Individual diet and lifestyle advice is given following assessment. Herbs, nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies support treatment, and can help to reduce inflammation and muscular spasm, improve circulation, support the nervous system and provide natural pain relief.

What Else Can Help?

  • Place a cool cloth on your head
  • Relax in a warm bath with lavender essential oil
  • Implement dietary changes
  • Have chiropractic or osteopathic treatment to ensure neck alignment
  • Practice relaxation therapies – yoga, massage, meditation
  • Get plenty of sleep and rest (in a quiet dark room)
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated (2 litres a day)
  • Massage the scalp, temples, or the bottom of the neck
  • Try a different pillow or change sleeping positions
  • Practice good posture when at the computer, reading, or doing other activities
  • Exercise the neck and shoulders frequently throughout the day especially when working on computers, or doing other close work

A “headache diary” may be helpful for recording information about headaches over a period of time. When a headache occurs, write down:

  • The date and time the headache began
  • What you ate for the past 24 hours
  • How long you slept the night before
  • What you were doing and thinking about just before the headache started
  • Any stress in your life
  • How long the headache lasted
  • What you did to make it stop
If you are ready to take control of your own health, call me at Brunswick Naturopathy (0403755584) or book an online appointment.