Four types of headache – how to identify and treat them

Everyone will experience one at some point in life – but not all headaches are the same

Migraines affect three times as many women as men, possibly due to a link between migraines and hormones

ANYONE who suffers from regular headaches will tell you that the unpleasant symptoms, while only temporary, can be extremely debilitating.

But by better understanding how your brain works, you can find techniques to nip thm in the bud. Nutritionist Dora Walsh explains the typical types of pain associated with headaches and migraines, and how what you eat and drink can help soothe them.

:: Tension headache: The most common type of headache is called a tension headache. It's usually characterised by a dull, pressured pain on both sides of the head and forehead.

If you're suffering with any type of headache, ensure you're drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and maintain consistent blood sugar levels by eating regular meals. Avoid alcohol, as it will make the pain worse.

If you regularly get headaches at work, it might be time to assess both your workload and your computer set up: muscle contractions can often be made worse by staring at a screen for too long, poor posture or emotional stress.

:: Head pain that's simply throbbing: A severe throbbing pain in your head is usually a signal you have a migraine coming on. Scientists have discovered that hormones serotonin and oestrogen, may cause inflammation of blood vessels, leading to the pulsing pain. While the cause of headaches and migraines are still a bit of a mystery, certain foods may trigger them. The types of food that bring on pain can vary completely from person to person though.

If you suspect it could be due to food, in order to help identify your triggers, try and keep a food diary to record the food and how you feel afterwards so you can spot any patterns around the times when the next migraine strikes.

:: Headaches that cause vision problems: If you're experiencing lines that cross your vision or patches are blurry, then you may be experiencing an aura – a symptom that often precedes the pain of a migraine. Neuroscientists have found that auras are a result of electrical waves in the brain that spread out from a point of electrical stimulation to impact other functions.

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to headaches and migraines. Try increasing magnesium-rich foods in your diet, like nuts and seeds, while eggs and milk are also good sources.

:: Headaches and nausea: People who regularly experience gastrointestinal symptoms have a higher rate of headaches, and migraines may actually slow down the digestive system. To help relieve the associated nausea, gently sip water, ginger or peppermint tea, and try nibbling on neutral foods such as dry crackers or toast. Get plenty of rest.

:: Migraine sufferers who experience severe physical effects should always speak to a pharmacist or GP.

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