Why does the head hurt?

Health Tips

We rarely think about it. I swallowed a pill on the run and forgot. In early spring, there are even more reasons for a headache. Here is a change not only in the weather, but in the whole way of life, the pre-holiday fuss and an abundance of interesting TV programs, the end of the first quarter and the upcoming break in the daily biorhythm due to the transition to daylight saving time, cold winds and unusual physical efforts after winter. However, at any other time of the year there are many reasons for a headache.

It is interesting that for the centuries-old acquaintance of a person with a headache, she has not only opponents, but also … defenders. The ancient Greeks said that pain is the “watchdog of health”, and today doctors agree that pain is given to us by nature not only as a signal, but also as a protective device. Only she is able to make a person pay attention to his health and give up what harms him.

Only knowing from experience that the next morning our heads will crack, we abstain from excess alcohol, while the most blatant illustrations of an alcohol-affected liver poison us indifferent. Only a sick head makes us leave the premises poisoned by nicotine or toxins into fresh air. And only with the onset of a headache, we regretfully break away from many hours of watching television. Whatever you say, pain is a great substitute for our lost willpower.

Today it is known that headache is extremely diverse both in its causes and manifestations. So experts count up to two hundred (!) different “types” and even more causes of headaches. Among the latter, one can name an injury received many years ago, and many infectious diseases, and intoxication (poisoning) of the body both through food, through breathing, and contact with the skin.

A headache can be provoked not only by external causes – harsh light, increased noise level, etc., but also by purely “internal” processes of the body, which are sometimes unknown not only to the doctor, but also to the patient himself. For example, a headache can be caused by disorders of the endocrine system (hormone imbalance), various diseases of the vascular system and other internal organs.

Due to the variety of causes, the mechanisms for the development of headaches and, consequently, the methods for its elimination are also different. However, people, as a rule, are not too attentive to this “usual” and “non-serious” ailment. It is rare that anyone will turn to a therapist with a headache if there is a remedy at hand that effectively relieves pain. But this is also a problem for many.

Sometimes pharmacists in pharmacies will not help much without knowing the diagnosis. The most diverse drugs in their action on the pharmacy counter are combined into a common group called “headache remedies”, from which we, as a rule, choose our own medicine according to our taste or pocket, but by no means for its intended purpose.

And meanwhile, everyone who is at least sometimes forced to buy a medicine “for the head” needs to at least approximately imagine the origin of their illness, or better, the diagnosis made by a specialist, so as not only to quickly get rid of it, but also not to inflict additional harm. After all, the regular intake of affordable and effective analgesics cannot be recognized as safe. Their numerous side effects (changes in blood composition, decreased immunity, etc.) have long been known to medicine. With prolonged use of painkillers, the functions of the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract noticeably worsen, up to a stomach ulcer.

The main side effect of analgesics is the gradual addiction of the body and the lack of pain relief. Therefore, while your headache has not yet become “uncontrollable”, together with a neurologist, establish its true cause and begin to deal with it, and not with the “signaling” of the body.

The whole variety of headaches in medicine is divided into two main groups: symptomatic headaches, which are only a “signal” or a consequence of a disease, and headache as such, as an independent disease. Among patients suffering from headaches, two thirds are women. They suffer mainly from vascular types of headache. In men, the cause of persistent illness is, as a rule, previous injuries and osteochondrosis.

Approximately 65 percent of all cases of headaches are so-called functional and are easily treated with painkillers. Their origin is as follows: as a result of disease processes or congenital weakness of certain body systems, the state of the human nervous system gradually changes. The alternating processes of excitation and inhibition create an overstrain, from which a headache appears.

In this case, a person can be practically healthy, but have a congenital increased excitability of the nervous system. The cause of a headache for such a hypersensitive person can be a change in the weather, a shift in the daily routine, and any emotional outburst, and magnetic storms on the other side of the Earth, and an elementary lack of oxygen in the room, and a glass of alcohol and a cigarette lit by a neighbor.

Vegetative-vascular dystonia (a diagnosis that can be safely made today by half of young people of both sexes) is just one of the sources of headaches. Frequent colds and chronic foci of infections in the nasopharynx (sinusitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, etc.) have a direct effect on “causeless” headaches. The anatomical structure of a person is to blame for this: the center of the autonomic nervous system is connected by blood flow to the nose area, from where the flow of pathogenic microbes constantly flows.

The remaining 35 percent are headaches that occur with so-called organic diseases, in which structural changes appear in the tissues of the body (primarily in the tissues of the nervous system). The latter include brain bruises, various neoplasms, hemorrhages, inflammatory processes, etc.

Symptomatic headaches caused by a disease (sometimes hidden) of any internal organ have their own characteristics, by which it is sometimes possible to determine the “culprit”, that is, the diseased organ. Knowing exactly the nature of the headache (“dull” – “acute” – “point”), the time of its occurrence, localization (forehead, temple, occiput, etc.), severity (mild, severe), duration, course features ( paroxysmal, constant), etc., in most cases, a specialist doctor can correctly diagnose and thereby not only prescribe a method for eliminating the headache itself, but also draw your attention to the problem of some body system.

Today there are about fifty such diseases, the leading, and sometimes the only complaint in which there is a headache! Among them are kidney problems due to secondary arterial hypertension; the liver, which has a direct connection with the brain; lungs (venous encephalopathy). In the latter case, as soon as the patient complains that his head is starting to hurt, he has only to lie down, and relief comes in the sitting position, as the specialist can only confirm his guess with tests.

The difficulty is that the doctor can judge all manifestations of headache only from the words of the patient. That is why, the more competent and objective the patient will treat his headache, the greater the chance of success.

Of the 35 percent of headaches caused by organic diseases, about 30 are vascular headaches, when pain receptors are irritated in the walls of the vessels of the head under the influence of strong blood flow. This occurs with all types of high blood pressure, as well as with organic changes in the walls of blood vessels due to atherosclerosis.

And only about 2 percent is the result of direct damage to the nervous system, such as a brain tumor. Given these two insidious and tragic percentages, one should still not be too dismissive of regular (almost daily) headaches, especially if they are long and persistent. It is worth seeing a doctor. First of all, to the therapist, who, if necessary, will prescribe a consultation with an ophthalmologist and a neurologist.

In addition to describing the patient, the specialist has other tools at his disposal to establish an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes it is quite enough to measure blood pressure twice a day or examine the fundus of the eye, since the vascular “pattern” of the retina is nothing more than the terminal vessels of the brain. If necessary, an X-ray examination of the skull and cervical spine can be performed.

In the fight against headache, neuropathologists do not reject the participation of alternative medicine. Well, the help of psychologists and psychotherapists is simply necessary. The fact is that, for example, very common, but still little studied “tension headaches” are the result of stress and depression. The constant tension in which a person is in a period of stress, anxiety causes an asymmetric tone of the muscles of the face and neck, which leads to a headache. And here, as you understand, psychologists will help to establish and eliminate the root cause of stress, anxiety or depression. And you can simply relieve muscle tension in a variety of non-pharmacological ways, without resorting to a “simple” medication “for a headache”.

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