Just Another Headache?

from HealthyWomen’s e-newsletter, HealthyWomen Take 10

When the dull pressure of an occasional headache begins, you might chalk it up to work stress, lack of sleep or personal worries. If the ache is mild or moderate, you may consider it no big deal and simply reach for an over-the-counter drug—aspirin, acetaminophen , ibuprofen or naproxen sodium—instead of calling your health care professional.

Simple tension-type headaches are common, happening to 78 percent of adults, according to the National Headache Foundation. Such aches are dull (not stabbing or pulsating), may contract the muscles in the scalp or neck and generally occur on both sides of the head, without nausea or sensitivity to light and noise.

Yet occasional or episodic headaches may increase in frequency over time. Are you taking headache medication nearly every day, but feeling little relief? Does the aching often start when you wake up or in the evening? Are you having sleep problems?

If that describes you on 15 or more days a month, you have chronic tension-type headache. And you might also be suffering from unrecognized depression .

Although people with chronic tension-type headache often get through their daily activities, studies show they have significantly higher levels of depression , which affects overall functioning and quality of life. That depression might not be displayed as sadness or other classic signs of a depressive disorder, so the problem underlying the headaches may be missed by health care professionals and even patients themselves. What’s more, chronic pain itself can lead to depression .

If you suffer from chronic headaches, get help now to end the pain:

  • Anyone taking headache medication more than two days a week needs to be examined by a medical professional. See your primary care provider or a specialist at a headache clinic (often affiliated with hospitals).
  • Even if you are not depressed, antidepressants are often prescribed for chronic tension-type headache. These drugs provide more pain relief than standard over-the-counter medications.
  • Biofeedback has also been shown to be helpful in ending chronic headache.

For more information on chronic pain, visit: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/chronic-pain

For more information on mental health, visit: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/mental-health

For more information on managing stress, visit: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/managing-stress

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


10 Responses to Just Another Headache?

  1. […] Just Another Headache? « Healthy Hearts & Bodies with Heartstrong […]

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  3. […] Just Another Headache? « Healthy Hearts & Bodies with Heartstrong […]

  4. Alina says:

    Mostly i use pain killer to cure headache. Is it good or not?

  5. Catherine Drinkwater says:

    Every article ends with, “see your health care provider”, assuming that everyone can afford that. Any suggestions for the individuals that have chronic headaches and have no money and no health insurance. Sure wish someone would give better suggestions than give a health care professional even more of the money you don not have!

  6. heartstrong says:

    For legal purposes and because everyone is different most “reliable” articles will say at the end “see your health care provider”. Headaches can be a sign of serious health problems so it is best to be screened by a healthcare provider. There are many lifestyle changes that can also be made to prevent headaches – limit caffeine/alcohol/nicotine/stress, avoid bright light/direct sunlight/loud noises. You need to determine the trigger. Know your blood pressure – high blood pressure readings can lead to headaches.

  7. your blog’s design is simple and clean….

    Mind if I use some of the information from this post if I provide a link back to your site?…

  8. heartstrong says:

    Please feel free to share this info – “Knowledge is Power”
    Thanks for the back link.

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