Headache-The Unwanted Visitor

I took a week off blogging because I’ve had this headache, for 8 straight days now. In fact I STILL have this headache, but it’s down to bearable levels now. For me bearable levels are a 4 on the pain scale with my 10 being kidney stones/gallstone pain. I’ve been having headaches of various types since well before my Graves’ disease diagnosis. Sometimes I wonder if they were the warning signs from years ago that something was not right with me. When I was in my teens and twenties, I actually had a low level nagging headache for almost every single day for about 18 years. They ran tests, they tried various drugs, I tried dietary changes and not much helped. Things would always come to a head when I got very nauseous and after that the headache would subside. After doing a lot of research I think they were sort of migraines and sort of tension headaches and sort of sinus headaches. If it was three things causing them at once, no wonder I didn’t have a chance with trying one thing at a time.They stopped being constant sometime after I finished my bachelor’s degree at Purdue and about the time I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Since then they don’t usually stay more than a day or two at a time.

Now when I have headaches that last longer than a day, I go on the offense. First thing I do is up my water intake, and since I hate the taste of regular water itself, I go for lemon water.  Hydration is important when you have a headache, it helps you flush out any toxins roaming around that may be contributing to the condition. If the headache is accompanied by a stuffy nose, then I add hot herbal tea to the water drinking. I love Traditional Medicinals brand, there is a tea of theirs for everything! I also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the tea once a day as well, which seems to help. Next I cut out dairy from my diet to make sure it doesn’t make inflammation worse or cause worse congestion if that’s a contributing cause. These will help if the headache is being caused by inflammation or congestion in the body, like with sinus issues. I also take turmeric twice a day on a regular basis to help calm down inflammation, which usually helps.

The next line of attack, is finding out if my muscles around my head/neck region or back are tense. Tension headaches I believe are another common form my head uses to attack. I got a portable home TENS unit. The TENS is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I received one from a friend, for free, and now just have to buy the supplies, which are not very expensive. I can put those on my back or base of my neck, and it makes the pain in my muscles fade away temporarily, and sometimes even longer. I also go to see a chiropractor once a month, and go a little more often when I’m having a headache, sometimes an adjustment will help the muscles relax and give me some relief from my headache. Moist heat or an ice pack around my neck and on my head helps at times also. My best luck has been an ice pack on top of my head while I have a heated “sock” filled with rice wrapped around my neck. That brings some relief as well.You name it, I’ve probably tried most recognized headache techniques.

If those don’t work, or don’t get rid of it completely then I go on to the next step.  I start taking long hot baths at least once a day. I pour a cup or so of apple cider vinegar, which seems to relax my muscles, along with Epson salts or some nice relaxing lavender scents in,  then I sit and try to relax for 30 minutes or more. I use some of my grounding exercises at this time. I mentally trying to project the headache pain into the water, to be flushed down the drain when I’m done. Relaxation exercises are very important when you are having pain, even though it is very hard to get yourself to relax when your head hurts.

Sometimes the pain gets so bad it causes my blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. That happened about day 3 of the headache this time. I ended up having to seek medical treatment as I feared it might continue to rise and cause a stroke. Scary stuff! So my wonderful husband went with me to see if they could help. I hate this option as their version is to drug me full of medicines thru an IV along with fluids. I think the IV fluids probably help the most, and the pain and muscle relaxers they put in there help temporarily. I have to admit this time, they knocked my headache which was up to my pain scale of 9 down to 4 again, so I’ve been able to deal with it much better. Sometimes you just have to go when it gets bad and have the professionals give some temporary help with these.

I have other things I do to help with headaches depending on how they are affecting me. One thing is stretching exercises with my neck. Roll the neck gently from side to side, then up and down and back and forth. Breathing in slowly while you are doing them. I also will stretch out my back by standing in a doorway with my forearms propped on either side and then leaning forward stretching my shoulders and back.

I also take Tylenol when it’s really bad, since  I’m personally allergic to all NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, aka Ibuprofen, aspirin, etc). I prefer though to up my magnesium dose, I go up to 450mg a day when my headaches are bad, I also make sure I take a daily potassium pill if my muscles are achy as well. I even will try some caffeinated tea to see if the caffeine will help in small doses.

All of these things normally knock out any headache I’ve had. So far this one has been super stubborn and has been knocked down but not out. If you have other things you do to help with headaches, please list them in the comments! Thanks!

You can see Britney on Twitter @BttrflyBritney

or at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com to see the thyroid information site she helps run.