Headache causes, types and remedies

Headache: causes, types and remedies

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Study says headache costs more than 4.3 % of productive time. Lost paid work time accounted for 40 % of this, probably detracting directly from GDP.

Dear friends, in our daily life headache is very common in people around us. Headache causes pain and disability. But, why it is so common? Let’s discuss.

I know that you are very well aware of this term but we shall start with the definition.

Headache is defined as a painful sensation in the head or upper neck. The pain can be dull ache, mild, intermittent, throbbing sharp or intense.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that, almost half of the people worldwide have experienced head ache at any age at some point in their life.

Headache causes, types and remedies
Headache cost to GDP info graphics. Study: The burden attributable to headache disorders in India

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Types of headache:

Head ache is basically two types and can differ in intensity duration and frequency.

  • Primary head ache
  • Secondary head ache

Primary headache:

These types of head ache are not correlated with any other underline medical condition or injury.

90% headaches are considered as primary head ache to total head ache cases and this type of head aches are not life threatening.

Example of primary head ache are-

Migraine:

Migraine is an episodic disabling intense throbbing pulsating pain that can lasts between few hours and a few days.

Symptoms of Migraine:

  • Throbbing head pain
  • Acute ahead pain
  • Severe headache

Cluster Headache:

It’s very rare type of head ache (about 0.1% incidences) attack of ten wakes patient from sleep at similar time to night same side, usually over one eye.

Symptoms of Cluster Headache: 
  • Dysautonomia
  • Puffy eyes

 Tension Type Headache (TTH):

The main cause of this is not known although the physical and emotional stress can result the muscles pain that cover the skull to contract.

Symptoms of TTH: 
  • Muscle pain
  • Neck pain
Cause of primary headaches:

Change in life style factors can be cause primary head aches such as-

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of sleep or sleep disruption
  • Skipped meals or use of nitrates containing foods
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Bright light and loud noise
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Alcohol use

Secondary headache:

This type of head ache is a sign and symptoms of an underlying condition or injury.

10% of headaches are considered as secondary headache of total headache case and in some cases underlying conditions is life threatening.

In secondary head ache the root cause has to be diagnosed, aside from the head ache itself.

Possible causes of secondary head aches:

  • Brain tumors
  • Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis
  • Trauma
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Vascular events
  • PRESS (Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome)
  • Infections such as viral infections, sinusitis, meningitis etc.
  • Inflammatory diseases such as CNS vasculitis, Kawasaki, ADME (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis) etc.

Home remedies that helps to get rid from headache:

Below are the 10 natural remedies which are helpful to get rid from head aches.

  1. Be hydrated (Drink water): Drinking of water is the simple and most effective home remedies for head ache because, dehydration can lead to loss of brain fluid which stimulate the pain receptors by pulling away from the skull and can lead to muscle pain in head.

  2. Use of cold and hot compression: Applying the ice pack on forehead or at the base of skull in initial sign of head ache may reduce the head pain and inflammation by constrict the blood vessels. However, it depends on severity.

  3. Proper Supplements: The nutrition helps to control nerve and muscle function, also works to reduce Cortisol level (a frequent head ache trigger). Moreover, the patient should take supplements like Vitamin B2 and co-enzyme Q10 which helps to reduce head ache.

    Avoid consuming histamine rich foods such as aged cheese, fermented foods, wine beer etc. which can cause migraine.

  4. Exercise and Yoga: According yoga practice such as PRANAYAM (breathing techniques) and ASANA (posture yoga) and stretching are effective for head ache.

    Subsequently, some common exercise such as gentle neck rolling, stretching the jaw and each ear towards the shoulder, walking, running or swimming helps to reduce head ache. So, do it regularly.


  1. Napping: Disruption in sleep schedule or too much sleep can trigger head aches. Therefore, taking 10 -15 minutes nap can help to minimize headache.

  2. Use of essential oils: The easy way to use essential oils is aromatherapy.

    So, you can try any of the following essential oil for head ache. The essential oils often used topically even though some can be ingested similarly.


  • Peppermint oil
  • Clove oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Basil oil
  • Eucalyptus oil

  1. Meditation or resting: Resting for 12 to 15 minutes in a dark and quite room can often reduce the head ache.

    As per several research studies, most importantly meditation is a more powerful relaxation practice which is most effective to reducing migraine.


  1. Use of caffeine: Use of beverage containing caffeine such caffeinated tea or coffee provides relief in head ache by constriction of blood vessels. However, It’s helpful in cluster headache, tension and migraine basically.

  2. Massage: Firmly massaging the neck and shoulder or rubbing the temples in circular motion provides relief from tension. So, do it on regular basis.

  3. Use of Magnesium rich food: Use of Magnesium rich food (dark leafy greens) plays an important role in reducing headache. However, magnesium deficiency is more common in people suffering from migraine head ache.

    As per studies treatment with 400-600 mg of oral magnesium citrate/day helped to reduce migraine head ache.

Excess use of magnesium can cause diarrhea or strain on the kidneys. So, need to use in limited quantity, do not overdose.

Note: If you are suffering from severe or chronic headache please consult your health care professional, who can advice or diagnose your particular underlying disease.

What a headache cost to the country?

Study says the population (aged 18–65 years, effectively the working population) lost 2.7% of its entire productive time to headache which is around more than six days a year. Above all this is an enormous loss. Those with migraine (25.2 % of the population) lost 5.8 % of their productive time; they were therefore responsible for a 1.5 % loss from the productive time of the population as a whole – nearly 4 days a year.

Santosh Pd Maurya
Santosh Pd Maurya

A health care professional and Pharmacovigilance expert, willing to explain the importance of food and common knowledge about medicine. By doing this, I want to bring a positive change in everyone's life.

1 Comment

  1. Very informative santosh.. Specially the home remedies section.
    I have some friend amd family member who is suffering from such condition.

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