Headaches are one of the most universal of man's
ailments. They can be a chronic, long-standing problem. More than 45
million Americans suffer from the excruciating pain of headaches. Headaches
are common concerns among college students. They are biological realities.
However, psychological stress from tests, deadlines and school-work
conflicts and the like contribute to many types of headaches. Vulnerability
to headaches varies from person to person depending not only on genetic
make-up but also on a person's ability to cope with the many and varied
life stressors, demands and commitments. Two of the major types of headaches
are outlined below, and, while cures are rare, headaches can be controlled.
Muscle Contraction Headache:
The pain of a muscle contraction headache is caused by the pulling
of muscles in the neck and base of the head. The sustained contraction
of skeletal muscles is usually part of a person's reaction to life stress.
These are also called tension headaches and are characterized by a dull,
throbbing pain felt on both sides of the head surrounding the scalp
and occasionally affecting the shoulders as well as the neck.
Chronic muscle contraction headaches require medical
examination of the head, neck and neurological systems in order to determine
the etiology of the pain. For milder tension headaches, the appliance
of warm, moist compresses and a gentle massage to the muscles involved
provide some relief. Relaxation training and biofeedback treatment can
provide relief. It is often hard when you have a headache to relax on
your own. Optimum benefit from relaxation training can be obtained by
being properly instructed individually or in a group. Biofeedback training
is more complex than relaxation training. It targets specific physiological
Migraine Headache: The pain of a migraine headache has recently
been found to be due to biological abnormality of nerve cells and chemical
messengers in the brain. During migraine attacks, biochemical changes
occur in the brain, such as the depletion of the nerve-cell messenger
serotonin. When prescribed medication is taken to stimulate serotonin
action, relief from headache pain is often found at last. Migraine headache
sufferers may find themselves depressed. They may also find that their
sleep is fitful, and they may know family members who suffer as they
do. Migraines are characteristically different from muscle contraction
headaches because they can cause a partial or complete loss of vision.
People who are susceptible to migraines may find
that weather changes, stress, as well as bright lights, hormones and
possibly food trigger migraine attacks. A spectrum of sensations or
aura will occasionally precede some migraine attacks. Pain is often
experienced on one side of the head and can be accompanied by vertigo,
nausea and/or vomiting.
Relief is available for chronic headache sufferers.
Medication and acupuncture, when performed under a physician's care,
have helped many sufferers. Acupuncture, coupled with biofeedback and/or
medication, can provide even more relief.
Headaches can also be caused by disease of the
head, eyes, ears, or teeth, or high blood pressure. The pain from headaches
having an organic base is generally different from the usual headache
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF WITH HEADACHE PAIN
can help to diagnose your type of headache by describing the headache,
as well as by keeping track of each headache's occurrence.
Talking about the life stressors which may be
an underlying cause of your headache has been found to be helpful in
relieving some types of headache pain. Relaxation training is also helpful
If you or a someone you care
about suffers from headaches and you would like more information, come
in and speak with a professional counselor in 0203 James Hall.
services are free and confidential.