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An assortment of headache types: headaches can be caused by faulty diet, tension, noise, emotional turmoil, physiological changes (menstrual), pollution, and many other environmental factors.

Ninety-five percent of all headaches can be lumped together as migraine, cluster, and tension-type headaches. Only 5 percent account for less common types of headaches.

Heading the list is chronic daily headache, usually brought on by an "addiction" to taking pain killers in the form of over-the-counter drugs (and sometimes prescription drugs) which cause a rebound effect.

The monosodium glutamate (MSG) headache ranges from mild to severe. More than ever, store-bought foods contain MSG, a flavor enhancer. The public has little protection because the Food and Drug Administration continues to consider its inclusion safe. The headache is usually a migraine-like pain with throbbing of the temples and forehead, tightness, and pressure in the face.

Carbon monoxide headaches are caused by exposure to carbon monoxide (CO). They produce throbbing pain, nausea, and dizziness. CO builds up in the bloodstream. Some obvious sources are motor vehicular traffic, poorly ventilated cars, or a defective auto exhaust system.

Exertion headaches are sometimes the symptoms of a tumor, aneurysm, or blood vessel malformation. They are brief throbbing headaches. More than likely, exertion headaches occur only during exercise, spasms of coughing, or sexual activity.

Eyestrain headaches occur in the forehead and are linked to poor lighting while reading, working at a computer over time, or needing a new prescription. Too many people prescribe for themselves by selecting reading glasses at a retail store without a proper medical examination.

Hunger headaches are characterized by head pain. They often occur among people who experience dips in blood glucose levels. Although most people experiencing these headaches are not hypoglycemic, they have the same reactions and should not delay meals.

Muscle-tension headaches subside within a few hours if a person lies down and closes one's eyes for a few minutes. The body will take this respite to unwind taut muscles. This interlude may also change the individual's perception of pain. After reflection, crises often diminish to minor events.

Some people cannot tolerate any situation that requires relaxation and literally cry out for "fast, fast, fast" relief. A mild over-the-counter analgesic may provide some temporary relief.

Analgesic drugs do not really transform muscle tension into muscle relaxation by direct action; they simply buy time by reducing the sensation of pain. After a few hours, when the drug's effects diminish, the underlying causes of the headache have not been resolved and the pain surfaces again.

Gentle massage of the shoulder, neck, and head muscles can be an effective adjunct measure. Heat treatment or warmth applied to taut muscles can make them more pliable. A heating pad, hot moist compresses, or a not-too-hot water bottle placed at the back of the neck can be beneficial. A moderately hot bath can be most helpful.

The jaw headache (temporomandibular joint syndrome) is a matter of dispute between some physicians and dentists; dentists argue that many headaches can be attributed to jaw misalignment, but medical doctors frequently disagree.

Jaw misalignment is a condition that usually can be corrected and will yield infinite benefits. Symptoms consist of pain and soreness in jaw joints; grating-clicking-popping sounds in the ear when chewing; difficulty in moving jaw from side to side or front to back; pain in the jaw joints; difficulty in chewing; missing back teeth and temporary bridges. The dentist checks whether jaw deviates to the left or right when mouth is opened wide. Many dentists believe that the strain of jaw misalignment may contribute to a general decrease in vitality and physical strength.

Hangover headaches occur after drinking too much alcohol the night before. They are probably caused by toxin overload or the effect of alcohol withdrawal.

Caffeine-withdrawal headaches occur when a heavy, daily coffee drinker skips the morning brew or sleeps late on weekends. The pain sometimes disappears after a drink containing caffeine.

Warning signal headaches that cannot be attributed to any known cause should be taken seriously if they consist of sudden, severe head pain; head pain following an injury to the head; fever accompanying head pain; head pain with mental confusion; headache problems that did not occur until middle age; and daily headaches.

Psychogenic headaches have no clear physical origins; they do not always respond to such physical remedies as medications or surgery but can be treated effectively by psychiatrists. Emotional stress can produce muscle contraction and subsequent vascular headaches.

Psychogenic headaches are also known as "conversion headaches" because they consist of an emotional disturbance (sexual conflict or repressed aggression) expressed in more socially acceptable terms of a physical illness.

Overdosing on medications is often the consequence of seeking help from drugs rather than exploring the psychological basis of what can be a conversion complex.

(Editor's Note: These articles originally appeared in Nutrition Health Review, Issue #70)

An Extraordinary Inventor Aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol[R], Datril[R]) were invented by the same individual. In 1853, Charles-Frederic Gerhardt, an Alsatian chemist, formulated acetylsalicylic acid. He was not seeking anything in particular, and he did not realize what he had accomplished; the notes of his discovery lay unknown in his notebook. Not until 1893, when a Bayer company chemist manufactured the substance from Gerhardt's notes, was the substance recognized to be effective against pain, fever, and inflammation.

Acetaminophen also was invented by Gerhardt in 1852 (a year before he made aspirin). Like aspirin, acetaminophen languished in his notebook until 1886, when a pharmacist mistook the formula for another drug and found to his surprise that the substance reduced fever. When the drug went on sale as a fever drug, to everyone's surprise is also relieved pain. Soon afterward, the pharmacist discovered that in large doses acetaminophen caused liver damage.

Short Circuitry in the Brain

An out-of-body experience occurs in the lives of people who are able to feel heightened excitement or arousal (hypomania). The latest research indicates that such individuals are more than twice as likely to be migraine sufferers. This, ability to imagine the sensation of leaving the body for a short time corresponds with the theory that migraine might be caused by some kind of short circuit in the brain. The logic: Migraine is a disorder of arousal; it starts with a period of hyper excitement, a sense of extraordinary well-being ... and then the slump before coming out of the trance-like stage.

Was Alice in Wonderland a Migraine Figment of Lewis Carroll's Imagination?

Did the creator of Alice in Wonderland transform some of the miseries of his migraine fantasies into the great classic? Many Carroll devotees think so.

Alice in Wonderland begins with a description of Alice dozing, then feeling herself falling through space (a typically vivid description of the dizziness characteristic of migraine).

Throughout the book there are accounts of the girl's migraine-like visions, especially when the author describes her feeling of growing tail or] shrinking.

Carroll also describes Alice's reaction in a shop: "Whenever she looked hard at any shelf, that particular shelf was always empty, though the others around it were crowded as full as they could hold.

Might this be a fanciful of the migraine "blind spot"--when a blank area appears to blot out vision directly ahead?
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Reprint
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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