HELP for HEADACHES
There are more than 300 different types of headaches, from the “brain freeze” people get if they eat ice-cream too quickly to debilitating cluster headaches that can last months. Here’s a rundown of the latest treatments for some of the most common types.
Slow build-up of dull, squeezing pain across forehead or entire head
Mild to moderate pain, typically behind the eyes or across the bridge of the nose; fever; mucus discharge from nose
Intense pain, often around one eye; can include eye swelling, redness, and tearing. Episodes can last 4 to 6 weeks, with an average of two headaches per day.
TRIGGERS Fatigue, neck and shoulder tension, emotional stress
Usually brought on by a bad cold or allergies Believed to be genetic; cigarette smoke, alcohol, changes in weather, strong smells, bright lights. Ten times more common in men than in women, cluster headaches can be triggered by relaxation, which is why they often begin at night during sleep
Non-prescription pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen; muscle relaxants
Antibiotics or corticosteroids for the underlying sinus inflammation, antihistamines
Triptan injections and inhaling pure oxygen to reduce pain. Preventive medications include the calcium channel blocker verapamil, the steroid prednisone, and lithium. Scientists are testing CGRP drugs (see main story)
Relaxation exercises and cognitive-behavioural therapy
Acupuncture and relaxation exercises Melatonin, which regulates the sleep cycle, has been shown in small studies to help prevent cluster headaches