Nearly everyone in the world has suffered a headache at least once in their lifetime. For some, headaches are much more common. In fact, up to 1 in 20 adults has a headache every, or nearly every, day. Ranging from fleeting pain to chronic stabbing, throbbing, or radiating pain, headaches can cause mental, emotional, and physical strain.
So, when should you worry about a headache? With headaches being such a common occurrence, it can be difficult to understand when we should actually be concerned. If you've been developing headaches and are unsure if you should seek help, continue reading.
When a Headache is Serious
Headaches are split into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary headaches are typically triggered by the over-activity of or problems with the pain-sensitive structures in the head, such as nerves. Secondary headaches are caused by underlying issues, such as hormones, allergies, trauma, and even caffeine.
The cause of most headaches is still unclear to doctors. Structures such as the skull and brain tissue cannot register pain, so it's understood that alternative structures such as the blood vessels in the head and neck, nerve endings, and the scalp may be responsible for registering the ache of a headache.
Depending on the cause and type of headache, symptoms may vary. Chiropractic care, over-the-counter NSAID medications such as Ibuprofen and rest can often prove effective at controlling headache symptoms. However, some headaches require medical care.
If these symptoms are present, your headache might be a sign of a serious underlying issue and you should visit a medical professional as soon as possible:
- Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
- Signs of stroke, including a dropped face on one side; droopy mouth or eye
- Headaches that arise after an injury to the head from a fall, blow, or bump
- Pain that increases with coughing, bending, or other movements
- A new type of headache that starts for the first time after age 55
- A major change in your symptoms or pattern of attacks
- Headaches that are accompanied by a painful red eye
- Have signs of severe dehydration or heat stroke
- Confusion, decreased alertness, or memory
- Changes in personality or mental function
- Blurry vision, double vision, or blind spots
- Trouble with speech, confusion, seizure
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Slurred or garbled speech
- A high fever or malaise
What Can Be Done?
Depending on the type of headache you're suffering from, your treatment will vary. If headaches are frequent, begin by keeping a journal. List when you get the headaches, the time of day, what you ate, and any details that you think are pertinent. This can help you determine what is triggering your headaches and allow you and your doctor to tailor a treatment plan that can most benefit you.
One of the largest causes behind both primary and secondary headaches is lifestyle choices. From diet and exercise to supplements and water intake, how you treat your body can greatly impact your headaches. You might be able to begin avoiding headaches by changing your behavior or lifestyle, and keeping your body aligned and without tension.
Other tips to improve headache pain include:
- Avoid overusing headache medicines as too frequent use can cause ‘rebound’ headaches
- Rest and relax in a quiet, dimly lit space with good ventilation
- Avoid chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
- Massage your neck, jaw, shoulders and head
- Put a cool cloth or ice pack on your head
- Visit your optometrist for an eye test
- Drink plenty of water
Chiropractic Care for Serious Headaches
Chiropractic is a holistic approach to handling headache pain, which not only uses proven manual adjustments to align the cervical spine, but also uses soothing therapies to reduce tension in the body. The cervical spine, which connects the skull to the spine, carries more than double its weight in tension each day, which can add to headache pain. A chiropractor utilizes spinal manipulation to free any blockages in nerve flow, as well as to reduce this tension.
Likewise, a chiropractor can provide nutritional and exercise advice which can help to improve your lifestyle. Working regularly with a chiropractor allows you to better identify headache triggers and flaws within your current routine. A chiropractor can help to track headache frequency, and help to identify the necessary steps needed to decrease headache pain.
At ChiroCare of Florida, we always put our patients safety first. If you think your headache could be serious, do not hesitate to receive medical attention. Contact us today if your headaches have given you a reason to worry.