Medicine now differentiates between more than 250 different types of headache. The most common forms of headache include tension headaches and migraines. The exact distinction of both of these is more important for selecting the right chemical-synthetic drug than to the sufferer themselves, because both forms can cause excruciating pain. A unilateral headache, which is often accompanied by nausea and photosensitivity, is typical for migraine.
What types of headache are there?
Migraine, a special type of headache
If you suffer frequently from headache attacks, the question possibly arises as to when this is a migraine. Migraines are a neurological disease in their own right with around 10 % of the German population suffering from these. Women suffer from these far more frequently than men. The clinical picture of a migraine is extremely varied. In 70 % of all migraine patients, the headache is only on one side. People affected perceive an extremely intense and pulsating pain that increases on exertion especially in the temples, forehead and eyes.
The duration of a migraine attack varies between 4 hours and several days. One to 2 days beforehand there are often warning signs in the form of irritability, a heavy feeling, fatigue or also euphoria. An aura characterised by neurological disorders (sight, speech and sensory disturbances) may occur a few hours before the actual episode of pain.
Typical accompanying symptoms of a migraine attack are:
- Noise sensitivity
- Nausea through to vomiting
- Aura (visual disturbances with flashes of light, black holes, jagged lights)
Migraine with aura
Almost every third migraine patient is familiar with the phenomenon of the aura. Aura refers to the neurological symptoms such as speech impairments, numbness, visual impairment, seeing flashes of light or zigzag patterns (scintillating scotoma). The duration of these symptoms is around half an hour. The typical migraine headache occurs during the aura or a short time afterwards.
In isolated cases there is no headache, so that a migraine aura can also occur even without a headache. This type of disease is seen especially in men.
Causes of migraine
Migraine is a neurological disease whose causes are not yet completely understood. The following factors play a role in causing a migraine – in different and individual combinations:
- Genetic predispostion
- Hypersensitivity to sensory input (chronic hyperexcitability of the nerve cells)
- Vascular disorder in the brain
- Inflammatory processes
- Changes to certain messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain
Triggers of a migraine attack
When the migraine disease is present, certain stimuli may trigger an acute migraine attack. Such stimuli are referred to as trigger factors and vary greatly between individuals. Hormonal fluctuations in women are one of the most relevant migraine triggers. In more than 50 % of all female migraine patients, the headaches are related to the menstrual cycle. Those affected suffer migraine pain especially in the late second half of the cycle.
Typical trigger factors:
- Hormonal (menstruation, taking hormones)
- Biorhythm (time difference, seasons, shift work, too much or too little sleep)
- Environment (noise, smoke, hairdryer, full moon, light (disco))
- Substances (alcohol, chocolate, cheese, red wine (due to tyramine and histamine))
- Social (stress, weekend, anxiety)
Given the variety of possible causes and triggering factors, it may be helpful to keep a headache diary to identify individual triggers.
What triggers other types of headache?
Stress, and also irregular rest periods (weekend, holiday), tension in the neck, hormonal fluctuations, certain foodstuffs, change in the weather… There are many triggers for a severe headache.
Natural help for headaches and migraines
Reaching for a headache tablet is especially common among women. Pain relievers for acute cases do not matter as long as they are restricted to occasional emergencies. If you suffer from frequent headaches, you really should try to track down the cause and gain relief from gentle methods.
What helps headaches? - Some advice:
- Make sure you have rest and Relaxation.
- Place cool compresses on your forehead.
- Rub your forehead and temples with peppermint oil.
- Exercise in the fresh air whenever possible.
- Get a massage to loosen up that tense neck.
- Alternate foot baths (warm long, cold short).
- Watch out for possible food intolerances.
- Always ensure an adequate intake of magnesium.
- Use relaxation techniques such as Jacobsen progressive muscle relaxation or autogenic training.
- At an early stage, a cup of strong coffee with lemon or vitamin C and magnesium might help avert an attack.
Homoeopathic complex remedies can contribute to long-term retuning of the body's reaction. They are not only targeted at providing rapid pain relief, but they also help harmonise the body. There are also options for homoeopathic support or so-called homoeopathic regulation therapy to harmonise the body. Therefore, they are best used for a 2- to 3-month period as a regulating treatment aimed at retuning the body. But it is also possible to take frequent small doses to ward off an impending bout of headaches. Please discuss this with your doctor or alternative practitioner.