Saturday, March 12, 2011

Got Summer Headaches?

As temperature rises, so is your chance to get those throbs and aches. Some tips to help you thwart the pain.

Tension headaches: Feels like there's a huge rubber band wrapped around your brain which comes from stiffness in your neck, forehead, scalp and face, as taut muscles irritate nerve endings that relay pain signals to the brain.

Treatment: Take OTC painkillers-such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the first sign of scalp tightness. Also consider massaging a muscle-relaxing lidocaine-based gel on your shoulders and neck.

Prevention: Sweat it out by exercising. It's a natural stress buster which prompts your body to release painkilling endorphins. It also strengthens blood-vessel muscles against headache-inducing inflammation.

Sinus Headaches: The feeling of painful pounding around your eyes. With a sinus infection, it can make things worse.

Treatment: Put a warm damp cloth over your eyes to relieve inflammation and use OTC nasal spray to relieve congestion. If it lasts longer than 4 days, see your doctor.

Prevention: Change filters in your A/C with new HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) that screens out dust, mold, pollens and airborne bacteria that cause nasal inflammation.

Migraines: Can be triggered by many variety of stimuli such as bright light, stress, too much or little sleep, hunger and hormonal fluctuations causing your brain's blood vessels to be engorged. This nerve pain leads to a piercing misery that lasts anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days.
If you meet 2 of the 3 criteria doctors use to make a diagnosis; - (pain that keeps you from your normal life activities, sensitivity to light and nausea), that means you fit the migraine bill.

Treatment: An ice pack can offer relief, but most use prescription meds called triptans which work by constricting blood vessels around your brain. They're most effective when taken at the first signs of pain.

Prevention: Have your doctor check your magnesium level to determine if you need supplement. Low levels of magnesium hinders serotonin production and lead to inflammation.
Magnesium is closely tied to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates blood vessel function.
Consider acupuncture as another alternative. A 2009 study found it to be more effective at relieving migraines than some preventive treatments.