So now, your head is aching like anything and you don’t know what to do.
We discussed about how to diagnose about your headache in the previous article. If you missed the article, Please use this link to read the article.
Let's talk headache management now.
Pain is a perception that varies from person to person and its treatment should be individualised according to the patient's need. Pain is measured most commonly by a visual analogue scale that measures it subjectively on a scale of 0 -10 with 0 meaning no pain and 10 means the most severe pain that the person has experienced in life.
Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) is widely used through the world to measure Headache intensity. VAS helps us categorise the headache into mild, moderate and severe for management purpose. Also whenever possible, a headache diary should be maintained that will help in keeping the temporal log of the severity, intensity, frequency and nature of our headaches. It will also help in noticing headache's trigger factors and will educate patients and doctors more about the illness and the possible strategy for its management.
Again, etiology of headache will be the prime factor in determining its treatment. Tension Type Headache, Migraine, type of migraine, Cluster headache, Trigeminal neuralgia or any other type of headache will respond to different modes of treatment.
"THE NATURE OF THE HEADACHE WILL HELP FIND OUR MANAGEMENT STRATEGY. "
But even when we are not sure of the type of headache that we have, few basic tips might help you manage most type of headaches:
Tension Type Headaches and Migraine have their triggers - that are individual specific so finding those triggers and avoiding them will help prevent those headaches.
Carry your prescribed analgesics in your bag. - And taking the analgesics as soon as possible after the onset of headache episode makes that headache episode easy to handle. Keeping the painkillers as is needed is important but try to avoid the overuse of painkillers, as the overuse of the pain killers may lead to Medication overuse headache.
Medication Overuse Headaches - are kind of rebound headaches that occur as soon as the effect of the painkillers ends in a patient who is addicted to pain killers. May we call it painkiller addiction and headache may be called as pain killer withdrawal headaches.
Instead of going to the highest potency painkillers, you should start with the simplest painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, which are safer than the other potency painkillers.
Lifestyle Management is vital for headache management - Eating regular meals, taking a good night sleep and keeping the stress at bay either psychological or physical is another mantra that will decrease your headaches.
There are other non- pharmacological methods that may help in alleviating the headaches provided they are done on a regular basis. These are:
Breathing exercises ( Please read the article : Deep Breathing Exercises )
Progressive muscle relaxation
Mental imagery relaxation (also called guided imagery / BiofeedbackRelaxation to music)
Counselling/cognitive therapy (to help patients recognise and relieve stress)
Alternative therapies, including physical therapy, massage, hypnosis, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture/acupressure, aromatherapy, and herbal therapy
Though this is just a small overview of how the headache should be managed, these simple tips can decrease the headache intensity and frequency, making the problem more manageable, till you find a more longterm management strategy.
Dr Sweta Singla
MD, DM Neurology
Senior Consultant Neurology
Kalpavriksh Superspeciality Center