The Common Headache - LPNI

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The Common Headache

LPNI Health Topic – July 2016
The Common Headache: Ways to Stop the Pain
Almost everyone gets an occasional headache with its throbbing, pounding, vise-like sensation.  The list of things that cause headaches is long.
Migraine, cluster and sinus headaches are entities in themselves and often require medical intervention. They aren’t “just in your head”.   However, the most common headache is usually caused by tension, and is the focus of this topic.
Ways to treat a tension headache
•           Massage neck muscles, rubbing gently and firmly toward the heart.  Massage temples
           in a gentle circular motion, beginning at the center and moving outward.
•           Apply a heating pad to the shoulders and neck or take a warm shower, letting the
           water massage the area.
•           Lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth to the forehead.
•           Apply a cold pack against the forehead or neck.
•           Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain, preferably before the
            pain becomes excruciating when the cycle is hard to break. Rate the pain on a scale
           of 1 to 10 with 10 being unbearable and 1 insignificant. Intervene at level 2-3 so that it
           never reaches level 5.
•           Use relaxation techniques.  Slow deep breathing with eyes closed or
           progressive relaxation techniques may also help prevent headaches when under
Tips to prevent tension headaches
•           Find ways to reduce stress in your life.
                -Slow down and take five deep breaths.
                -Daily set aside time to meditate.
•           Make a conscious effort to relax the muscles of the jaw, neck and shoulders, even
           before there is a headache.  Massage temples and neck frequently.
•           Notice and correct neck and shoulder posture that results in strain.
•           Get daily exercise, preferably outside.
•           Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar consumed in coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
•           Avoid foods that seem to cause headaches.
Some common foods that may cause headaches in certain people
           Hard cheeses               Sour cream                Red wine
           Bananas                      Caffeine                   Citrus fruit
           Chocolate                    Onions                      Nuts
           Foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG)
B. Janice Faulkner, RN, BS, MSN, FCN
Parish Nurse
Ascension Lutheran Church
Minocqua, WI 54538 USA
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