It is quoted that more than half of the world's population will experience a headache in any one year. Five million Australians are affected by headache on any one day.

The type of headache determines the best treatment. 

A tension headache is the most common form of headache, with the sensation being described as having a dull band of pain, usually on both sides of the head and lasting from hours to days. It was initially thought that muscle tension caused the headache, but it is now known that many factors such as poor sleep, stress, bright lights, poor posture and fatigue may all contribute and the exact mechanism is unknown.

 Migraine will occur in one in ten people at some point in their lives and may recur throughout their lives. The pain is typically more severe and usually affects one side. The pain may also be associated with preceding vision disturbance and associated with nausea and sensitivity to light. It is thought migraines are caused by a change to blood flow to different areas with several triggers known such as fluctuations in hormones, certain foods, alcohol and stress. Migraine has a genetic component and tend to run in families. There are very successful treatments now available, particularly for those who experience warning symptoms before a migraine starts available from your GP.

 Other headaches are less common, but headache can occur with dehydration, as a result of chronic daily pain medication use and rarer forms such as cluster headache and as a result of intracranial pressure increase, such as occurs with a brain tumour.

 Research has also provided evidence that there are simple steps to take to reduce your headache incidence.

  1. Avoiding dehydration
  2. Stress management
  3. Caffeine can relieve some headache, but headache is the mostly common withdrawal symptom of regular coffee drinkers who cease.
  4.  Fasting headaches are most common after 16 hours of a fast
  5.  Avoid alcohol excess and the hangover headache. Those who suffer from migraine may find chemicals used during fermentation to give alcohol taste, smell and colour may also precipitate a migraine
  6.  Migraine sufferers may have certain food triggers including chocolate, cheese, and when following a diet low in folate

Headache triggers are common, most sufferers can identify 4 to 9 triggers. The traditional advice to avoid these triggers has been criticised on the grounds that it is impossible to follow and avoiding triggers may lead to reduced tolerance for triggers or increased sensitivity. Evidence now suggests a better strategy may be to learn to cope with triggers, avoiding some and in others to desensitise or increase tolerance by appropriate exposure strategies.

  Headache and migraine diaries can prove to be very valuable tools in managing ongoing headache. These are available to print out or as ao phone app and can be used in managing headache

 The National Headache Register provides up to date research and trials available for sufferers .



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