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Don’t overlook that headache

Speaking to Dr Osi-Ogbu, a consultant/physician and geriatrician at the National Hospital, Abuja recently on the dangers of this, she says “headache is not a…

Speaking to Dr Osi-Ogbu, a consultant/physician and geriatrician at the National Hospital, Abuja recently on the dangers of this, she says “headache is not a disease but a common symptom of several diseases. When you have a very persistent headache especially in an adult or elderly person, we want to find out the cause. It could be a symptom of common cold, malaria, typhoid or even hypertension.”

Headache, she says, can arise from anything that is arising from your head or neck. It could be from muscles around your face and head or increased pressure on the eye. Aches from toothache can cause headache and headaches can also be as a result of stress.

Osi-Ogbu says the message is that people should not disregard headaches, because they could be a symptom of something sinister like brain tumour or even tuberculosis in the brain. When headache persists, people should check it out. The headache that will last for a week or less could be a result of a viral infection.

However, for simple headaches, Osi-Ogbu says, “taking Paracetamol at least three times a day will help.  But if it persists, you may have to see a doctor.  That may be called a chronic headache.”

Then there are those that are classified as migraine headaches. These are those that affect one side of the face. “When we tell someone he has migraine, it simply means migraine headaches. Here, it is assumed that the blood pressure suddenly widens or increases in volumes and creates pressure on that side of your head.

People who have migraine headaches have family members that have the same.  Tablets that contain caffeine always worsen their case. For others, chocolate is also a precipitant,” Dr Osi-Ogbu stated. Cluster headaches tend to be around the eye and may last for a few minutes or even less than a day unlike migraines that may last for three days.

In tension headaches, you have aches extending to the back and neck that is not severe. It may just be a lingering ache at the back of the head and neck. It does not stop you from your daily activity like the rest could do and it may abate after a good rest.      

It is estimated that between 40 and 50 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. Headaches are believed to be the result of an electrical and chemical imbalance in the centre of the brain that regulates blood vessels around the head and neck. Headaches may be caused by a wide variety of factors including stress, reactions to certain foods, hormonal imbalances, genetic predisposition, fatigue, noise and glare.

How can I prevent a headache?

Medical experts suggest regular exercise and reducing stress. Also, that you identify the precipitating factors including foods, alcohol and oversleeping. Trigger foods typically include chocolate, dairy products and caffeine. Again, avoid overuse of pain relievers. Rebound headaches can occur when pain relievers are taken too often, thereby reducing your body’s natural ability to fight pain.

How do I treat a headache?

In most cases, you will probably find relief in pain relievers such as Aspirin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen). But for chronic headaches, you should consult your physician.

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