see also Migraine
Most headaches are due to strain on the muscles in the neck or head, or congestion of the blood vessels which supply them; the brain itself cannot feel pain because it contains no pain receptors. Headache is a common pain and is not often an indication of anything serious. Headaches can be a symptom of anxiety, Stress, physical tension (especially in the back and shoulders), lack of sleep, over-consumption of caffeine in tea or coffee or suddenly cutting down caffeine intake, food Allergy, Eyestrain, Fever, Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar, especially if you have not eaten for some time), Migraine (recurrent one-sided headaches, with nausea, vomiting, and bivisual disturbances), drug side effects (especially if you have started a new drug), Sinusitis (especially after a cold, if there is dull pain or tenderness in the cheeks or around the eyes which gets worse when you bend forwards), Cervical Spondylosis (stiff neck, an ache which extends from spine to top of head, headache made worse by lifting, driving, or turning head slowly) and other spinal problems, Pre-Menstrual Tension (headache comes on before a period), post-herpetic Neuralgia following Shingles, malocclusion or sepsis after dental treatment (see your dentist), and High Blood Pressure. That very common form of headache, the hangover, is mainly caused by dehydration (alcohol is a powerful diuretic).
Temporary arteritis (dull, throbbing headache behind one or both temples) is caused by inflammation of the arteries which supply the scalp.
Headaches may be caused by pain-killing drugs taken to relieve them: if you are constantly taking painkillers, stop them under advice from your medical doctor.
Headaches can also be a symptom of damage to the blood vessels in and around the brain itself, or infection of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. In such cases prompt action and close observation are required.
If a headache follows a head injury, and the person is drowsy, nauseous, and vomiting, the cause may be a extradural brain haemorrhage; if there has been no injury, but symptoms are headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and intolerance of light, cause may be subarachnoid brain haemorrhage; in either case contact Emergency Medical Services and give Arnica 30c every 15 minutes until help arrives.
A bad headache, with a temperature of more than 100°F or 38°C and intolerance of light, may be Meningitis; pain behind one eye, with blurred vision, may be acute Glaucoma or Iritis; if any of these conditions is suspected, consult your doctor if there is no improvement after 2 hours.
Where a headache has lasted for several days, seem worse in the mornings, and is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, consult your doctor if there is no improvement after 12 hours; high blood pressure, stress, or a brain tumour may be the cause.
Constitutional treatment is recommended for recurrent headaches caused by stress, anxiety, or tension. However, if you know or suspect that a headache is a symptom of another condition, one which does not require prompt medical attention, look up the remedies for that condition, then compare the symptoms listed with those given against the remedies. Remedies for severe one-sided, sick headaches are given under Migraine.
Specific remedies to be taken every 10-15 minutes for up to 10 doses
- Headache comes on suddenly, feels worse in cold or draughty surroundings, person apprehensive headache feels like a tight band around head or as if brains are being forced out of head Aconite 30c
- Head feels bruised and aching, pain occasionally sharp, made worse by stooping Arnica 30c
- Stinging, stabbing or burning headache, rest of body feels bruised and tender, symptoms worse in hot, stuffy surroundings Apis 30c
- Throbbing, drumming headache, flushed face dilated pupils, distinctly worse in hot sun Belladonna 30c
- Head feels bruised, sharp, stabbing pain made worse by slightest eye movement Bryonia 30c
- Head feels full and swollen, face purple and congested-looking, expression dull and heavy, dilated pupils, limbs weak and shaky Gelsemium 30c
- Violent headache in which ever heartbeat sets up an answering thump and throb in the head, made worse by stooping or shaking head Glonoinum 30c
- Bursting, aching headache, hypersensitive scalp, worse in damp, foggy weather Hypericum 30c
- Headache described as tight band across forehead or as nail being driven out through side of head Ignatia 30c
- Person often irritable, prone to dull, dizzy, bruising headaches which are rather like being beaten around the head, worse first thing in morning but better when person gets up Nux 30c
- Pressing, bruising headache associated with fatigue, made worse by reading, alleviated by rest Ruta 30c
Specific remedies for hangovers, to be taken hourly for up to 6 doses, with copious glasses of water between doses (where headache is main feature, see also Alcoholism)
- For the proverbial 'bear with a sore head' who wants to be left alone Chamomilla 30c
- Head feels super-sensitive, mind in overdrive, tea and coffee make things worse Coffea 30c
- Head aches as if it has been beaten, feeling dull, dizzy, and irritable Nux 30c
- Feeling weepy and miserable, hangover due to rich food as well as alcohol Pulsatilla 30c
Self-help: increase exercise, get more sleep and take naps if possible during the day. Avoid painkillers unless absolutely necessary. If taking supplements of Vitamin A, stop them for a while and see if the headaches stop - overdosing with Vitamin A does occasionally cause headaches. Take extra Vitamin B3 and potassium for a while. Osteopathy and physiotherapy, in particular cranial manipulation, would be well worth trying, as would facial exercises and self-massage.