Raise your hands if you have never had a headache……so we can tag you and send you to Area 51 immediately. Why? You might actually have some alien abilities. As funny as this might sound, there are people who have never had a headache all their lives. This is really strange as headaches are one of the most common health concerns across the world. An estimated 2.4 billion people, mostly adults, experience a headache at least once every year. Well, maybe there are aliens on earth after all. 1
A headache is not a sickness but rather a symptom and it has different causes and types. It occurs when a person feels sharp or throbbing pains in the head or the neck regions. Over 200 types of headaches are known. 2
There are two broad classifications of headaches. These are the primary and the secondary headaches.
Primary headaches are the most common accounting for around 90% of all headaches and are common in people aged between 20 – 40 years. Common types of primary headaches are tension headaches, cluster headaches, hormone headaches, migraines and hypnic headaches.
Tension headaches are the most common types of primary headaches and they are caused by stress or fatigue. They often go away with time.
A migraine is a more serious type of headache which could last for between 4 hours to 3 days. It is the second most common form of headache and it affects an estimated 29 million Americans each year. Migraines could be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, light and noise sensitivity and stomach pains.
Cluster headaches are well-known for their intense pain and suddenness. A cluster headache is often very painful and commonly occurs close to an eye. It causes a running nose, a red eye, formation of tears or the shrinking of the pupil. Cluster headaches last between 15 minutes and three hours and often occur at the same time daily. They are much more common in men. However, they are very rare.
Hormone headaches are those suffered by women undergoing hormone changes. These changes take place mostly during their period, menopause or pregnancy. Birth control medications could also result in headaches due to their hormone changing effects. 3
Another type of primary headache is called a hypnic headache. This type often starts after falling asleep and lasts for between 15 to 30 minutes. It is common among elderly women.
Though primary headaches could be painful and affect your daily activities, it is not caused by any serious and potentially damaging condition. 4
Secondary headaches are more serious than the primary ones. They make up 10% of headaches and they are often caused by serious problems in the body. Causes of secondary headaches are meningitis, brain tumor, temporal arteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, ruptured aneurysm, middle ear infection, dehydration, dental problems, painkiller overdose, stroke, concussion and acute angle closure glaucoma. 5
Headaches are common symptoms of a large number of mild sicknesses especially the common ones like common cold, flu, fever and malaria. Headaches could also arise due to trauma. An example of this is taking a heavy blow to the head or smashing the head on a hard surface. 6
Headaches From The Environment
The environment you live in could also be the cause of your headaches. Exposure to chemical fumes, allergens, tobacco smoke, noise, light and even changes in the weather could cause one.
Headaches From Stress
Stress is another major cause of headaches. Stress could be caused by work, ill health, lack of rest, chronic worrying and poor nutrition. Common symptoms of stress include muscle tension, weakness, eating problems, sleeping disorders and anxiety. 7
Headaches From Drugs
Recreational drugs or medications could also trigger a headache. Drugs like alcohol, caffeine (found in coffee or tea), cannabis, hashish, nicotine, heroin and cocaine might result in a headache.
Genetical factors with Headaches
Genetics also plays a huge role when it comes to headaches. Headaches are often passed down within families. The most involved type is migraines. Children born to parents who suffer from migraines has a 70% risk of having them too. When it is just one parent, then the risk reduces to 25 – 50%. Also, about 90% of young children who suffer from migraines have relatives who suffer from the condition too. 8
There are several known methods of preventing, managing and curing the various forms of headaches. For primary headaches, paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen should be taken. Triptans are also very effective against cluster headaches and migraines. For the secondary headaches, treatment is dependent on the causative sickness. For example, in the case of meningitis and brain tumor, antibiotics and cancer therapy is required respectively. 9
Magnesium Oxide For Headaches
One common trend among people suffering from headaches, most notably migraines, is that they all have low levels of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the body’s most essential minerals. It is crucial for the smooth functioning of the muscular, cardiovascular and skeletal systems. It also helps regulate blood sugar. Magnesium deficiency is more prevalent than you think with over 75% of Americans deficient. This is primarily because the quantities of magnesium gotten from diet sources are not enough. There are various magnesium supplements available to arrest this deficiency. Some of them are magnesium sulphate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium tri-silicate, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. 10
Of these supplements, the most effective against headaches, particularly migraines, is Magnesium Oxide. A study was carried out on people experiencing migraines. They were placed on a specific dose of magnesium oxide for 3 months. The results showed a 41.6% reduction in the headaches. Magnesium oxide has also proved effective against hormone headaches. 11
It is important to know the optimum dose of magnesium oxide to take as excessive supplementation is dangerous. It could lead to serious problems such as breathing difficulties, low blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. 12
Recommended Magnesium Oxide Dosage For Headaches
Depending on the severity and frequency of your migraines, the recommended Magnesium oxide dosage is 500 – 600 milligrams daily. For pregnant women, 350 – 400 milligrams daily is safe. Magnesium oxide supplements are commonly produced in pills. This treatment is safe and doesn’t have any serious side effects. 13 14 15
Supplementation should be put on hold if adverse side effects such as chest pain, breathing problems, vomiting or fainting are experienced. People suffering from bleeding problems, diabetes and kidney problems should also stay away from magnesium supplements. People in both categories should consult a doctor for further advice. 16
Headaches could be very painful and could even affect life quality. By increasing your body’s magnesium levels through magnesium oxide supplementation, you are on your way to a headache free life…….and Area 51.