A headache or cephalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck.
The pain is caused by disturbance of the pain-sensitive structures around the brain. Several areas of the head and neck have these pain-sensitive structures, which are divided in two categories:
- Within the cranium (blood vessels, meninges, and the cranial nerves) and
- Outside the cranium (bones of the skull, muscles, nerves, arteries and veins, subcutaneous tissues, eyes, ears, sinuses and mucous membranes).
Types of headache
Primary headaches are benign, recurrent headaches not caused by underlying disease or structural problems.
The most common types of primary headaches are
- Tension-type headaches
Other very rare types of primary headaches include:
- Cluster headaches: Short episodes of severe pain, usually around one eye, with tearing, red eye, nasal congestion, which occur at the same time every day.
- Trigeminal neuralgia or occipital neuralgia: Shooting face pain
- Hemicrania continua: One sided pain with episodes of severe pain.
- Primary cough headache: Starts suddenly and lasts for several minutes after coughing, sneezing or straining (anything that may increase pressure in the head)
- Primary sex headache: dull, bilateral headache that starts during sexual activity and becomes much worse during orgasm. These headaches are thought to be due to lower pressure in the head during sex.
- Hypnic headache: moderate: Severe headache that starts a few hours after falling asleep and lasts 15–30 minutes. The headache may recur several times during night.
Headaches may be caused by problems elsewhere in the head or neck
secondary headaches include:
- Meningitis: inflammation of the meninges that cover the brain symptoms presented as fever and stiff neck.
- Bleeding inside the brain (intracranial hemorrhage)
- Brain tumor: dull headache, worse with exertion and change in position, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Often, the person will have nausea and vomiting for weeks before the headache starts.
- Acute closed angle glaucoma (increased pressure in the eyeball): headache that starts with eye pain, blurry vision, associated with nausea and vomiting. On physical exam, the person will have a red eye and a fixed, mid dilated pupil.
- Post-ictal headaches: headaches that happen after a convulsion or other type of seizure, as part of the period after the seizure.
Diagnosis of Headache
- Blood tests – to rule diabetes, thyroid, diabetes, infections which may be the reason for headache.
- CT Scan & MRI – to detect any pathology related to brain itself like tumors, hemorrhages etc.
- Sinus X-Ray – Sinusitis due to recurrent cold coryza may be the reason for headache.
- EEG – If headache is associated with seizures EEG is recommended.
- Eye Exam– An eye pressure test performed to rule out glaucoma or pressure on the optic nerve as a cause of headaches.
- Lumber puncture – It is the removal of spinal fluid from the spinal canal to look for conditions such as infections of the brain or spinal cord.
Conventional treatment for Headache
The most common ways of treating headaches are rest and pain relief medication.
Generic pain relief medication are prescribed along with:
- Tricyclic antidepressants.
- Serotonin receptor agonists.
- Anti-epileptic drugs.
Homeopathic treatment of headache
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat headache but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to treat headache that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person.
There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of headache:
- Iris versicolor
- Nux vomica
- Bryonia alba
- Natrum muriaticum
- Ruta graveolens
- Argentums metallicum
- Belladonna is the first remedy that comes to mind for headache;
- Its symptoms are clear and sharply defined. Throbbing is the great keynote, and violent shooting pains in the head, driving the patient almost wild.
- Patient cannot lie down, must sit up, cannot bear light, a draft of air, noise or jarring.
- The location of the ache is mostly in the frontal region or right side, flushed face, dilated pupils accompany.
- The headaches of Belladonna are usually worse in the afternoon, the whites of eyes are red. Moving eyes aggravates.
- The face is puffed and red.
- Effects of sunstroke; heat on head.
- Head heavy, but cannot lay it on pillow.
- Cannot bear any heat about head.
- Better from uncovering head.
- Throbbing headache.
- Very irritable; vertigo on assuming upright position.
- Cerebral congestion; head feels enormously large, as if skull were too small for brain.
- Sun headaches; increases and decreases with sun.
- Headache in place of menses.
- Rush of blood to head in pregnant women.
- Nux vomica is more often indicated in headache than any other remedy.
- Headache from the excessive use of alcohol, the morning “big head,” tobacco, coffee,
- Headache from digestive troubles, constipation, and specially auto-“intoxication” and liver insufficiency. These are all common causes of the Nux vomica headache.
- The ache is situated over one or the other eye, usually the left, or else in the occiput.
- It is apt to being in the morning with giddiness on first rising, and last all day until night, and is accompanied with sour taste or perhaps nausea and violent retching.
- The dull, wooden, bursting feeling of the head following a debauch is most characteristic of Nux vomica.
- Stooping and coughing aggravate the headache; it is worse in the morning; moving the eyes and motion in general makes the head feel worse.
- In general, nothing relieves the Nux vomica headache ; but it will often disappear by rising and being about for a few hours. This is a characteristic point in those headache due to alcoholic excesses.
- A headache “all over the head” is also characteristic of Nux, and it will often cure after other remedies have failed.
- The pain begins in the morning and in the occiput, it comes up over the head and settles in the right eye.
- The pain increases in severity until there is vomiting of food and bile.
- Pain may become so intense at times that the patient will frantically bore her headache into the pillow for relief.
- It is especially suitable to women who menstruate too freely.
- Headache is relieved by lying down.
- More useful in the gastric form of headache.
- There may be also profuse micturition relieving the headache.
- The Iris headache characteristically commences with a partial blindness, or blurring of vision.
- It is especially a remedy for gastric or bilious headaches.
- This blurring of the sight may be preceded by drowsiness and the head begins to ache as soon as the blurring disappears.
- The pains are mostly located over the eyes in the supra-orbital ridges, usually in one side at a time, mostly the right.
- The pains are throbbing or sharp, if vomiting occurs, it is apt to be copious, bitter or sour. Especially characteristic is vomiting of matters so sour that the teeth are set on edge.
- The headache of Iris is aggravated by violent motion, cold air and coughing;
- Moderate exercise in the open air relieves.
- When headaches are produced by eating sweet things Iris is probably the remedy.
- Gelsemium is another remedy which has a headache commencing with blindness, and especially is it a remedy for headaches due to eye strain.
- The ache under Gelsemium commences in the occiput or nape of the neck, comes up over the head settles in the eye as in Sanguinaria.
- There is a feeling as if a band were about the head, the patient is dull and apathetic, and there is great soreness in the eye when moving them.
- Occipital headaches, which are dull and dragging.
- copious urination which relieves the headache
- Gelsemium headaches are also relieved by sleep, and dizziness may accompany.
- A characteristic of Gelsemium is a sensation of a band around the head just above the ears.
- It also suits “tobacco headaches.”
- Another remedy for occipital headache is Cocculus, and it is a most excellent one; the symptoms are these: the ache occurs in the lower part of the occiput and extends to the nape, and
- Headache is intense and nearly always associated with vertigo there is constant nausea. Among the causes of headache are riding in the cars and a carriage.
- A peculiar symptom of Cocculus is the sensation as if the occiput were opening and shutting.
- The headache of Cocculus in general are worse from mental effort, and are better indoors and during rest.
- There is a constant tendency to stretch the head backwards.
- A remedy often overlooked in the treatment of congestive forms of headache is Melilotus.
- With this remedy there is a sensation of bursting.
- it seems as if the brain would burst through the forehead.
- the pains are intense and throbbing and almost drive the patient frantic.
- The eyes are bloodshot and the headache tends to recur every afternoon.
- Sometimes the headache culminates in nosebleed, which relieves.
- Congestive headaches, due to sexual irritation, are speedily benefited by the remedy.
- The headache of Natrum muriaticum is as if there were little hammers beatings in the skull.
- Worse from moving the head or eyeballs.
- Headache comes in the morning, is worse about 10 A.M. and is preceded by partial blindness.
- Sun heat aggravates headache or headache due to going in sun heat.
- Headache in school children and especially in those who are maturing and anemic.
- Headache on top of head.
- The headache generally centers on the region of the ear and runs up to the occiput, leaving a stiffness of the nape of the neck,
- Profuse urination relieves headache.