Headaches are one of the most-commonly experienced medical conditions. Almost everyone has a headache at one time or another. Headaches can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or race. According to WHO (the World Health Organization), nearly 50 percent of all adults around the globe will have a headache in any given year.
Headaches can come from stress, emotional trauma, or a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Some people get headaches when they have been out in the heat during the summer months. Is it actually the heat that is causing headaches? Let’s take a closer look.
Most of us will agree that the summer heat can be a pain at times. However, does it really cause headaches? According to a Baylor College of Medicine expert, headaches during summer months may actually be caused by dehydration.
How does dehydration lead to headaches? When you are dehydrated, your blood vessels narrow as your body loses water and electrolytes. You become more susceptible to suffering from a heat stroke, and a headache is a symptom of that, along with high body temperature, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, and nausea. If you are already prone to getting headaches and migraines, this can certainly be a trigger, according to Dr. Doris Kung, assistant professor of neurology at Baylor. She suggests that you try to drink lots of water before and while spending time outside in the sun. Also, take frequent breaks from strenuous activity.
She also cautions against ignoring headaches if they become recurrent or are accompanied by weakness, numbness, slurred speech, or an altered mental state. This could be a warning sign of a more serious problem. If your headaches change in severity and frequency, you should seek help from your family doctor.
It is also important to realize that while over-the-counter medications may be temporarily helpful, if you take them too often, they can begin to cause you to have worse headaches. These headaches are called rebound headaches and can be more severe than a migraine. Taking pain medication of any sort for more than 15 days out of the month to help with headaches can cause this condition to occur.
Some things you can personally do to try to avoid headaches is to stay well hydrated, get plenty of sleep, identify your triggers and avoid them, exercise regularly, and eat as healthy as possible.
10 Reasons You Might Be Getting Headaches
Here are 10 of the most common reasons for headaches to occur.
- Anxiety: Stress really is a major reason for headaches. Try your best to keep your stress at bay. Talking a walk, a hot bubble bath, or reading a good book may help you to relax and refocus.
- Glare: Whether it is from a computer screen, the sun, overhead lights, or bright car lights at night, a headache can happen. Wearing sunglasses, taking a break from the computer, and using a desk lamp instead of overhead lights may help.
- Noise: Interestingly, it’s not just loud, repetitive noise, but continuous noise at a lower level can cause your head to ache. Calming music and headphones may be the answer.
- Bad sleeping and eating patterns: If you are hungry, take a minute and get something to eat. Too much or too little sleep is not good. Keeping yourself on a consistent schedule when it comes to eating and sleeping can do a lot to mitigate headaches.
- Medication: Certain medications list headaches as a side effect. Check with your doctor.
- Physical exertion: Doing an intense workout at the gym can make the blood vessels in your head, neck, and scalp swell, leading to a headache.
- Not enough physical activity: Staying sedentary is not good for you. Getting up and moving can not only decrease your risk for headaches but also help you feel better overall.
- Improper posture: By sitting up, as mom told us to do, the blood flows to the head, and your neck and spine are not negatively impacted.
- Fluctuating hormones: Right before your period, estrogen levels drop, and this can cause a headache.
- Food sensitivities: Certain foods and drinks can release neurotransmitters that are responsible for making some have headaches. Beware of such things as aspartame, MSG, chocolate, alcohol, cheese, and red wine.
Finding Relief for Headaches
Trying to find help that works for headaches can leave you frustrated. However, looking at the results of a study conducted by Dr. Erin Elster, an upper cervical chiropractor and researcher, can give you hope.
This study involved 101 patients who experienced a variety of different headache types. When taking their patient history, 87 of them recalled at least one trauma to the head or neck before the onset of their headaches. All were examined and found to have a misalignment in the top bones of the neck, either the C1 (atlas) or C2 (axis). They were all administered care by an upper cervical chiropractor. Out of these 101 people, 85 reported total resolution in their headaches in only 1 to 8 months of care. All but 4 reported that their headaches were greatly improved.
Why does upper cervical chiropractic help with headaches? A misaligned atlas or axis can create pressure on the brainstem, as these bones are located in the same area. This leads to the brainstem sending improper signals to the brain. Another problem that arises with misalignments is that oxygen-rich blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow are hindered from reaching as well as leaving the brain. All of this can lead to headaches.
Here at Providence Chiropractic in Edmonton, Alberta, we use a gentle method to realign these bones. This is often all that is needed to see an improvement in or an end to migraine headaches.