9 types of headaches that can plague your happiness
Between Crocin 50mg and a guillotine, I’d choose the latter to deal with the pain
Your head is not hurting. It’s just that Godzilla has decided to stomp on your cerebral cortex for fun. Sometimes it’s your ménage à trois with a certain Mr Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan. They love a good sledge-hammering spree on your brain the mornings after. On other days, it’s just your head seducing you to drown in a cup of coffee. There are more types of headaches than there are shades of grey in EL James’s universe. And they often come with their own entourage of vomiting, nausea, muscle stiffness and blurred vision.
“With changing times, and our constant exposure to rays and screens, the types of headaches are only multiplying beyond what we read in medical textbooks,” says Dr Nidhi Gupta, medical officer, Air India Ltd.
Broadly, there are two types of headaches: Primary headaches that don’t have any underlying causes attached to it, and secondary pains which are symptomatic or a result of other illnesses. Doctor’s help is suggested in the second kind of pain, to rule out life-threatening conditions such as brain tumour, meningitis, internal bleeding and strokes.
So, before you pop a Crocin and bathe in eucalyptus oil, it might be a good idea to identify the breed of headache that plagues your happiness.
Primary types of headaches
Migraine: The throbbing headache that lasts hours (… days) and reduces you to a dysfunctional mess is infamously known as the migraine. Vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell make guest appearances during these episodes. You may also experience visual distortions, including flashes of light. In most cases, hormonal changes and stress is known to trigger migraine headaches.
It may feel like your brain is at a heavy metal concert that the rest of you aren’t invited to. Yes, just stare at the above GIF for 5 seconds to know what it feels to get a migraine attack. Since there’s no permanent cure yet, you better get used to the internal, infernal head banging. There are only two known remedies: Lock yourself up in a dark room until the concert ends or just be off with your head.
Ayurvedic remedy: Take a teaspoon of coriander seed powder, cumin seed powder and black cardamom powder. Mix it in a cup of water. Leave it overnight. Drink it the next morning on an empty stomach.
Tension headache: You’ve had this at least once in your life even if you think you haven’t. It’s that common. The head usually feels heavy due to stress or malfunctioning muscles in your neck and face. Over-the-counter paracetamols generally can be your rescue remedy. But if this becomes a permanent fixture on you calendar, it’s time to call your doc.
Ayurvedic remedy: Use warm ghee as nasal drops.
Cluster headache: Here’s the MVP of headaches. Some women suffering from this have often described it to be more painful than childbirth. “Medicine is yet to crack the remedy to the cluster headache. Sometimes it comes twice a year, or sometimes it can be a monthly affair. We can diagnose it with scans and tests, but there are only preventive measures, not any remedies,” says Gupta. Wonderful!
Ayurvedic remedy: Drink ginger tea regularly to keep cluster headaches in control.
Sinus: Sometimes your eyes hurt, and your cheeks throb too. The forehead catches up soon. And when the three join hands with your head, their pain collab can only indicate one thing: your sinuses are more jammed than Chandni Chowk. Behold, the sinusitis headache only gets worse if you bend. Sinusitis generally follows a bad cold, and doesn’t feature vomiting or nausea. “It’s one of the easier headaches to diagnose. An ibuprofen generally helps. Keep yourself hydrated. That’s the most important remedy for every headache,” says Gupta.
Ayurvedic remedy: Boil water in a cauldron. Add a few drops of clove/eucalyptus/patchouli oil and 10-12 crushed mint leaves. Inhale the steam for 10-15 minutes.
Hypnic headache: It’s one of the rare headaches that doctors also refer to as the alarm-clock headache. It generally occurs while you’re sleeping, and lasts for a few hours. “If you wake up in the middle of the night with a throbbing pain on both sides of your head, it’s the hypnic headache. It’s easier to diagnose since it’s a primary kind. In most cases, there are no underlying causes for these,” says Gupta.
Ayurvedic remedy: Drink nutmeg milk before you sleep
Secondary types of headaches
Hangover: If it always begins with a couple of drinks after work, and ends in an unwarranted sick leave the following morning, you have a serious case of hangovers. Dizzy, thirsty, sleepy, or all at once with a heavy head after a night of intoxication makes you a prime victim. Of course, you can rely on periodic glugging of your cook’s nimbu pani or the three-week-old juice in the fridge. Crocin 50mg nips it in the bud for most.
Ayurvedic remedy: Drink buttermilk with a pinch of pepper.
Caffeine withdrawal: Cutting down on caffeine is akin to finding a room for reasonable rent in Mumbai. But not many take into account the bouts of headaches that form a major part of withdrawal. One tiny espresso shot will cure it, yes, but do you want to sabotage your anti-addiction efforts just yet? Reach for that aspirin in your first-aid box instead.
Ayurvedic remedy: Take a tablet of Ashwagandha at night with lukewarm milk.
Meningitis: Meningitis is the inflammation of membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. The headache is generally accompanied by high temperature and neck pain. Proper medical treatment is required as some cases can become life-threatening, too.
Brain tumour: Don’t fall prey to googling your symptoms. You may WebMD your way through the first few days, but if the pain begins to affect your daily activities, it’s time to visit the doctor. “You cannot dismiss the recurring episodes as just another day of migraine. The nature of pain is similar. But if your over-the-counter pain meds are failing, it’s important that you get it checked,” says Dr Gupta. The initial signs are sudden pulsating headaches, eerily similar to an episode of migraine. With time, headaches associated with brain tumour are accompanied by seizures, vomiting, nausea, blurry vision and speech difficulties. There could be several reasons for a persisting headache. If your headache is still haunting you, consider consulting a doctor for a deeper investigation to rule out a more serious consequence.
How to heal your headache without popping pills
Yes, the odds of finding Disprin and Ibuprofen in your wallet is higher than finding all denominations of chillar. But perhaps, your attempts to avenge the killer headaches with tablets are failing because the nerves have become more immune to the biochemical combos.
It’s high time you looked beyond the neighbourhood pharmacy, and purchased that much-needed yoga mat. Yoga instructor and Kalaripayattu champion Pradeesh Raj believes acing only a handful of yoga postures can relieve the various types of headaches that are busy hammering your head.
Pranayama: This deep breathing technique is known for curing tension and stress-related headaches. Lie down on your back with a small pillow under the head. Perform Pranayama for at least 15 minutes.
Headstand (Sirsasana): This classic pose is a precautionary measure. Performing headstands on a regular basis keeps the headaches in check; however, it is advised not to perform this pose during a migraine episode.
Shoulder stand (Sarvangasana): Often called the ‘Queen of Asanas’, this is a superpose that combats multiple types of headaches as well as other ailments at once. Whether it’s constipation or common cold or headaches, acing the Sarvangasana is an effective solution.
Plough (Halasana): The inverted yoga posture stretches the spine and shoulders, thus relaxing the nerves. This is generally performed after Sarvangasana for about five minutes. The plough pose also helps in establishing a better sleeping pattern.
(With inputs from Ayurvedic specialist Dr Ipsita Chatterjee)