Self-Help Strategies

Self-Help strategies can help you to cope with your headaches and they also have the extra added benefit of being free. However, they will "probably" only have minimal effect, but the focus is on lowering the pain threshold or preventing another one from beginning.

Headaches are elusive, and are therefore difficult to treat and we all know how difficult they are to live with.

In this article, I will address a few suggestions for home remedies but first wanted to discuss "Red Flags". Occasionally, headache symptoms are a concern and show be taken very seriously. Physicians call them "Red Flag Warnings" and they are:

  • Your headaches begin abruptly with no history or reason (eg. fall)
  • Your headaches are associated with dizziness, fatigue, vertigo
  • Your headaches cause confusion or loss of consciousness
  • Your experience changes in vision
  • Your headache is classified as "the worst ever"
  • Your memory is altered and you become confused
  • You have a fever associated with your headache (caution: headache is on of the associated features with fever)
  • There is a sudden or drastic change in your "headache pattern"

Changing your lifestyle can be difficult as routines, or patterns, are hard to break. Another factor is that often numerous people are involved so a solution is often difficult to arrange. Often changing your lifestyle can be costly, and requires additional effort, which is often hard to find.

A terrific self help strategy is to practice exercise or aerobic respiration. A fit individual in a better position to cope with a bad headache.

The following article on "Headache and Fitness" talks about the benefits of using mild-to-moderate exercise.

Headache and Fitness
by Brent Lucas
Help for Headaches
London, Canada

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can greatly reduce your risk of headaches, and lack of regular exercise can leave you more susceptible to chronic headaches. Not only is exercise good at giving the headache sufferer an overall sense of well-being, it helps to promote good health. Exercise - depending on the individual - ranges from walking, treadmill, stationary bikes to aerobics. We now know that aerobic respiration increases our endorphins (our bodies’ natural pain preventing chemicals) thereby reducing the sensation of pain felt.

Listed below are some major points for you to consider when making the critical decision to begin exercising:

First... do it moderately and not severely. Moderation will always be a way to "ease" into your routine. It will also help you to maintain good headache prevention. Walking is also a terrific exercise and it brings with it the added benefit of social support when practiced with a friend.

Second... use stretching exercises to warm up and maintain great flexibility so injury is less likely to happen. Always follow an instructor’s advice on how far to stretch.

Third... slow down or stop if you experienced any unusual discomfort or pain from exercising. Be sure to consult with an exercise specialist. He or she can suggest exercises that will not bring on pain.

Fourth... always start an exercise routine consulting with a physician - then under the supervision of a trained fitness professional.

Exercising can greatly reduce the frequency of headache attacks, and can increase your self concept. The benefit here is not to just get in, or stay in shape, but to feel better all over - including your head! Take exercise seriously, and your headache pain will surely diminish - but the first step comes from you the sufferer.

Another very important self help strategy is to "accept" that you have an ailment that is life-limiting and can flare up at times. It is important to be prepared for your next attack.

A good rule of thumb is to always be prepared - and often you will never have to rely on your back-up plans. On the other hand, when you go into a situation with no "alternate or back-up strategy" you may find yourself in jeopardy.

Exercise as a Migraine Trigger

Unfortunately for some unfortunate migraine sufferers, exercise can actually induce a migraine. Exercise can sometimes lead to a headache when:

  • You begin exercising abruptly and suddenly, thereby taking oxygen away from your body
  • You forgot to drink plenty of water beforehand and dehydrate your body
  • You have not eaten properly before the workout and therefor have low blood sugars
  • You workout too fast and hard, and your aching muscles can sometimes act as a headache trigger

There is no need to panic here as the pluses of exercise clearly out way the negatives.

The opioids (narcotics) cause progression of the illness (Chronic Daily Headache), not termination, and will actually make the individual much worse over time. It is easier and quicker to give the patient a pain killer than to "get into the trench" and try solve the problem. Patients with chronic daily headache require time, diligence, and frequent access from their physician.

Interview: Dr. Joel Saper, MHNI
-from the book Chronic Daily Headache

Find-a-Headache-Doctor
Click a province on the map above
or the list below:
 
   British Columbia
Alberta

Saskatchewan
Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec 
New Brunswick 
   Nova Scotia 
Prince Edward Island 
Newfoundland / Labrador
Northwest Territories 
Nunavut 
Yukon Territories
       

The book Chronic Daily Headache features
an article reviewed by a Headache Neurologist
entitled "Why Some Headache Patients do
not Improve"!