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Solving the Science of Headaches

According to the American College of Physicians, more than 45 million people in the United States experience chronic headaches. What causes this pain, and how can you find relief?

Headaches occur when muscles, blood vessels and nerves in your head and neck change by either swelling or becoming tighter. This change in pressure creates painful sensations in the head and neck, causing a headache.

Headaches can be triggered by a number of factors. For the most common type of headaches, muscle contraction or tension headaches, stress is often the cause. For migraine headaches — a type of debilitating pain — a major catalyst may be genetic. Migraine sufferers can also experience reactions to bright lights, certain foods and smells, and hormonal changes in the body.

Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and acupuncture, have proven to be helpful treatments for many people suffering from tension headaches.

If you suffer from migraines, take note of what the possible triggers include. With an accurate record, neurological specialists can help diagnose the problem and potentially offer solutions to prevent migraines.

“If your headaches change character or location, there may be something more serious happening, such as acute brain bleeding or
pressure in the brain or spinal cord,” says Soren Singel, M.D., neurological surgeon on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist
Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford. “Anyone with recurrent headaches should see a specialist to make sure there are no serious complications.”

For more information about neurological services at Texas Health, visit TexasHealth.org/Neurosciences.

(Spring 2012)

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