- Dehydration – this is a common cause of headaches. It’s easy to be busy and forget to drink enough water especially if you are having a big day at work/school or even on an outing running around in the sun. Adults need to drink at least 2L of water daily, more with exercise. Children’s water intake requirements depend on their age, size and activity level. Best to aim for at least 1L in primary school aged children and increase this with activity. High school students should be drinking at least 1.5L of water a day.
- Lack of sleep – Sleep deprivation can cause many issues and headaches in amongst them. Adults need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Children should be getting extra sleep. Primary school children should aim for 10-12hours and High school students 8-10 hours of sleep a night. It not just getting enough sleep that matters, it’s also the quality and quantity. I know for myself I sometimes get headaches if my sleep is disturbed during the night. (Just another joy of parenting.)
- Sinus issues – Sinus congestion and infections are big contributors to headaches. If this is you, it’s best to work on improving your sinus health. Start with looking at your diet. Are you eating lots of mucous forming foods such as dairy? Have you tried neti pods (a traditional Ayurvedic sinus rinsing technique)? Do you need extra probiotics? Those good friendly bacteria live in all mucous membranes and help reduce/fight infection. Then consider whether you need herbal help. There are so many herbs that help improve the health of your sinuses: Eyebright being one of my favourites. If you need help working on your sinus health, please call the clinic 9893 7007 and book an appointment.
- Eye issues – When was your last eye checkup? It may be time for glasses or even different lens. Some people find sunlight exposure headache forming – have you been wearing sunglasses or not? For others, it can that they have been working too hard and focusing on one point such as a computer screen for too long. Think of this as an extreme workout for your eyes. You would stretch your legs muscle out after a run, are you stretching out your eye muscles? To do this, sit down and look up as far up as you can and hold your eyes there for the count of 20, then move your line of vision to be 45 degrees to the right, then hold and count, next move to as far right as you can, hold and count. Can you feel that stretch? Carry on another 45 degrees, downwards, hold and count. Then look down hold and stretch. Now repeat everything on the left. If your job involves a lot of looking at screens you should try to repeat this roughly 3 times a day.
- Ear issues – Ear infections can commonly be a problem in children and these definitely can cause headaches. Pulling off the ears can be a sign of a problem here. Similar to sinus issues diet can play a huge role, especially if your child is eating a lot of dairy products, sugar or other mucous forming foods. Warmed Mullein or garlic oil drops can help ease the discomfort and start to treat the infections. If ear infections are recurrent, it’s best to book an appointment.
- Infections/fever – Infections of any kind can cause headaches, but this tends to be a one-off headache and not a reoccurring headache. If your headache and temperature is extreme and you have a stiff neck, might be best to head to hospital and rule out meningitis.
- Teeth or Jaw issues – clenching or grinding teeth, misaligned bite, dental abscesses etc. Did you know you swallow over 2000 times a day, every day! Therefore it’s not surprising when people with misaligned bites gets regular headaches, those poor over worked muscles are being pulled in unnatural ways too many times a day. If you think this could be you, a dentist or chiropractor will be able to help you further. Have you heard of Chirjodontics? Practitioners trained in Chirodontics are chiropractors that specialize in dental orthopedics. The best of both worlds!
- Neck/shoulder tension – the good old tension headache. Often described as a band-like sensation around your head that can be mild to moderate in intensity. This is the most common kind. Supplemental magnesium is my go to for these. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Or a massage! I love massages… Can’t forget acupuncture, acupuncture almost immediately removes tension headaches. You also need to address several lifestyle factors such as posture, stress levels etc.
- Pony tail or other headwear that is too tight – yeap, this was me as a child; I had such long and thick hair that I had headaches almost every day after school. If you know me, you’ll notice to this day I don’t wear my hair up in fear of the dreaded ponytail headache. Luckily removing the hair tie, helmet, cap or other headwear often relieves the headache. For parents of daughters with long hair, who need to wear their hair back for school I found I could handle a loose braid or plait.
- Hormones – hormonal imbalances can cause very nasty headaches and migraines. Some women find them very debilitating, they can be experienced at puberty, every month or at menopause. I find elevated estrogen levels to be the culprit. Hormonal headaches/migraines are treatable, in many cases, they are 100% resolved within 3 cycles. If this is you please don’t suffer any longer.
- Food related headaches – food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities can trigger both instant and delayed headaches. Alcohol even falls into this category some people get an instant headache from the preservatives in red wine, others can get a delayed headache or a hangover the next day. Caffeine withdrawal is possibly the most common food-related headache. Blood sugar imbalances are also up there as a top contender. Caffeine withdrawal headaches are usually located behind the eyes or frontally located, blood sugar headaches (can be high or low sugar) are usually located at the base of your skull. Seeking nutritional advice and changing your diet can remove food-related headaches from your life for good!
There are other causes of headaches such as trauma; brain tumors etc. but we have covered the most common causes. If you are having regular headaches, please don’t just take a pill and carry on, take the time to look at the frequency, location and timing of your headaches. There are many clues to help you discover the underlying cause. If you are stuck or need further guidance please do not hesitate to contact me at the clinic.