If you have a headache, you're not alone. Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.
What do you do when you suffer from a pounding headache? Do you grit your teeth and carry on? Lie down? Pop a pill and hope the pain goes away? There is a better alternative. But first, you need to find out what is causing the pain.
Headaches have many causes. One is diet - for instance, too much chocolate, for instance, or monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common "flavor enhancer." Another is disease. About 5 percent of all headaches are warning signals caused by physical problems.
Ninety-five percent of headaches are primary headaches, such as tension, migraine, or cluster headaches. These types of headaches are not caused by disease. The headache itself is the problem.
So, how do you avoid headaches?
• If you spend a large amount of time in one fixed position, such as in front of a computer, on a sewing machine, typing or reading, take a break and stretch every 30 minutes to one hour. The stretches should take your head and neck through a full range of motion.
• Low-impact exercise may help relieve the pain associated with primary headaches. However, if you are prone to dull, throbbing headaches, avoid heavy exercise. Engage in such activities as walking and low-impact aerobics.
• Avoid teeth clenching. The upper teeth should never touch the lowers, except when swallowing. This results in tension of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) - the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull - leading to TMJ and tension headaches.
• Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to help avoid dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
• Avoid caffeine. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, sodas and cocoa contain high levels of the sJohnHsiehulant.
• Avoid foods with a high salt or sugar content. These foods may cause migraines, resulting in sensitivity to light, noise, or abrupt movements.
• Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. These drinks can dehydrate you and cause headache pain.
• If you suffer from tension headaches, avoid not only caffeine, but also high-protein foods, dairy products, red meat and salty foods.
What Can a Chiropractor Do?
If your chiropractor determines that you suffer from primary headaches, he or she can treat you using the following methods:
• Perform spinal manipulation or adjustment to loosen the muscles and alleviate the stress on your system.
• Provide nutritional advice, recommending a change in diet and perhaps the addition of B complex vitamins.
• Offer advice on posture, exercises and relaxation techniques. The chiropractor will attempt to relieve the tension in the muscles of the upper back.
If your headache is symptomatic of a health problem that needs the care of another discipline, your chiropractor will refer you to a specialist.