There is nothing like a headache to make us feel miserable and quite frankly very ill, but until recently I wasn’t aware that many adult headaches are actually caused by taking too many over the counter headache pills and potions.  Recent findings published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in guidance to the health service for England and Wales revealed that more than one million people in Britain today maybe suffering constant, debilitating headaches because they are taking too many painkillers.  In fact, the very medication that is supposed to make things better is actually making them much worse.

Approximately, one in fifty people suffer continual headaches because of “medication overuse” NICE reports and the issue begins with taking the odd painkiller for tension headaches or migraines.  The medication, which works well initially, is taken more and more often, until sufferers are taking tablets for more than half the days in a month. NICE says that if this goes on for more than three months the medication ends up actually causing the problem it is meant to cure.

When we begin to enter the peri-menopause stage of our lives, our hormones begin to fluctuate and can cause many women to experience cyclical headaches or even migraine.  Many women who have been migraine sufferers previously, actually find that their migraines can diminish and sometimes disappear.  If you are unfortunate to start to suffer hormonal headaches or even migraine it is always worth keeping a diary of the start & finish dates/days over a few months and then discuss your symptoms with your GP as it can be worrisome, which can actually make your symptoms worse. It might be that they can help with either hormone treatment, which usually helps considerably or give you some medication to take to alleviate your symptoms.

Here are a few other suggestions to help should you find you are suffering from headaches or migraine:

  • Drinking plenty of water, especially if you are working in a heated or air-conditioned office/room. Dehydration can bring on headaches and make headaches & migraine worse
  • Make sure you have the correct lighting at home and at work, flickering lights can bring on nausea, irritate your eyes and cause some people to suffer from headaches and migraine
  • Make sure you eat regularly as going without food can also affect you. Be aware of any “food triggers” that may bring on headaches, I know a few patients who suffer if they eat chocolate and one lady can’t eat onions without suffering from severe headaches
  • Avoid strong smells too. The smell of smoke or diesel bring on headaches for me, so again know your triggers
  • Excessive tiredness and the prolonged use of a computer screen can affect your eyesight. It may cause eye strain and lead to headaches or migraine
  • Manage stress effectively. Tension- type headaches and neck related headaches are the most common type of headaches I see in Clinic.  Regular gentle exercising and stretching will almost certainly help.  Yoga, Pilates, swimming, meditating and walking in the fresh air are great strategies to adopt and are also great for women’s health and especially when we are peri-menopausal/post-menopausal
  • If you work at a desk, drive or slump whilst sitting watching TV for long periods of time, you might find that your neck and head muscles can become tight which can bring on a headache. Get up and about regularly before tension builds in the muscles
  • Many people I see in Clinic don’t actually realise how tense they are when they come in suffering with a headache or neck pain. This sort of pain is usually due to stiffness of the muscles in the neck and shoulders and sometimes the bones in their neck are slightly out of alignment. Massage is wonderful at de-stressing and loosening tight muscles; a  gentle skeletal adjustment of the neck maybe just what is needed to regain mobility, flexibility and enable to body to relax
  • If you have been prescribed exercises and stretches, do them regularly as they are designed to build strength to your muscles and help to alleviate the possibility of headaches

With headaches or migraine if you symptoms worsen or persist for longer than a couple of days you must seek medical advice, it’s probably nothing to worry about, but it’s always better to be safe.

Hope you found this information of help and interest.
Nikki
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