Self-care for secondary type headaches. Different types of headaches range from mild to excruciating, and the frequency of occurrence also varies from person to person. Headaches are classified into three types that are primary, secondary, and nerve pain headaches. Primary are tension, migraine, and cluster headaches. Nerve pain headaches are also called cranial neuralgia headaches. This is when one or more cranial nerves that run down the neck from the brain become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. Secondary headaches are a symptom of a bodily reaction or an injury. These types of headaches can be caused by:
- Sinus problems
- Physical exertion
- Alcohol consumption
These can be caused by a sinus infection. If pain presents in the upper teeth, a fever, and yellow or green nasal discharge, this could mean an infection. A doctor can help with some antibiotics. For individuals that regularly get sinus headaches from changes in air pressure or other causes, here are a few self-care techniques:
- Steam can help drain the sinuses. Take a hot shower or hold your head over a pot of steaming water.
Nasal Irrigation and Neti Pots
- This ancient remedy comes from India. The concept is simple; the teapot has a long spout that goes inside one nostril. The water/saline solution will go through the sinuses and come out the other nostril draining the nose and relieving the pressure.
Hot and Cold Compresses
- Individuals can find relief by alternating between hot and cold compresses placed on the forehead. This reduces swelling and allows the sinuses to drain.
- This powerful oil from Eucalyptus leaves helps clear up sinuses. It can be done by smelling a few drops placed on a cloth for 10 minutes or placing a drop or two in hot water and breathe in the steam.
Allergies are a common cause of headaches. Self-care can include:
Nitrates and Nitrites Avoidance
- These are common food preservatives in processed types of meat like bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. It is a preservative, but many individuals can have an allergic reaction that causes headaches instead of hives.
Avoid Powerful Smells and Odors
This can be difficult with all the smells wafting around but try to pay attention to the surrounding smells as any could cause an allergic reaction. Strong odors can include:
- Cleaning products
- Nail polish
- Hair spray
- Cigarette smoke
Food allergies often result in digestive problems, hives, and swollen airways but can also cause headaches. Even individuals that are not allergic to the food itself could be sensitive to other items like artificial colors or preservatives. The most common food items that cause headaches include:
- Citrus fruit
Consulting with a health coach and/or nutritionist can help to create a customized meal plan.
Exertion headaches can be produced by physical activity/exercise or strain. They usually begin with throbbing pain on both sides of the head and cause a red face or complexion. They can be caused by:
- Prolonged physical activities, exercise.
- Strenuous activity at work lifting objects or weights.
- Self-care for stopping an exertion headache includes:
- An exertion headache is the body’s way of saying that it has overextended its ability.
- Drinking some cool water
- Take a break for 20-30 minutes.
Avoid Headache Triggers
- Try to stay aware when these headaches present and pay attention to see if there is a trigger.
- This can be caused by dehydration
- Not enough sleep.
Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
These types of headaches can also be caused by incorrect posture when working or exercising.
- Lifting heavy weights or running with the head too far forward or back limits blood flow, causing muscle tension.
- A chiropractor adjusts the spine and whole-body
- Educate on core strengthening exercises and proper form.
Caffeine narrows the blood vessels that surround the brain. When an individual stops consumption, the blood vessels enlarge. This causes an increase in blood flow and pressures on the brain’s surrounding nerves. This can trigger a caffeine withdrawal headache. Self-care includes:
Peppermint or Lavender Oil
- Massaging a drop of oil into the temples can open up the blood vessels and relieve the pressure.
- Applying an ice pack to the back of the neck can stop a caffeine headache.
Taking a Nap
- Lying down and taking a nap for 30-60 minutes can help bring relief.
- Alternate decaf coffee with regular coffee.
Estrogen levels can affect various areas of a woman’s body, including headaches. Headaches experienced just before or in the first days of a menstrual cycle are known as menstrual migraines. Headaches that start when ovulating are called hormone headaches. Self-care can include:
- Practicing yoga can help prevent headaches from occurring.
- 7-9 hours of sleep are recommended every night to allow the body to flush out old hormones and create new ones.
- This can help prevent a hormone overload.
Stress leads to headaches.
- Massage therapy is highly recommended to reduce stress and keep the body loose and relaxed.
Changing Birth Control Pills
Certain types of birth control pills can have more side effects than others, including headaches.
- Ask a doctor about switching to another type to see if it helps.
Master Cleanse Diet
The Master Cleanse Diet is a prescriptive program that focuses on a specific food or drink regimen. This diet is intended to last around two weeks and relies on:
- Drinking a water mixture
- Lemon juice
- Maple syrup
- Cayenne pepper
- A salt-water flush can also be incorporated.
Bryans, Roland et al. “Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with headache.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 34,5 (2011): 274-89. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.04.008
Chaibi, Aleksander, and Michael Bjørn Russell. “Manual therapies for primary chronic headaches: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” The journal of headache and pain vol. 15,1 67. 2 Oct. 2014, doi:10.1186/1129-2377-15-67
Green, Mark W. “Secondary headaches.” Continuum (Minneapolis, Minn.) vol. 18,4 (2012): 783-95. doi:10.1212/01.CON.0000418642.53146.17
The information herein on "Self-Care For Secondary Headaches" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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