when your noggin starts aching, the last thing you need is a search for new insights.
But, alas, sometimes that's the only thing that helps.
First check that the pain is a steady ache across the brow. If your head throbs mercilessly on one side and you've got nausea, it's a migraine and you need professional help.
Get to a doctor ASAP if your headaches are accompanied by severe neck stiffness, fever, vomiting or weight loss.
Do the same if the pain lasts longer than a day or happens more than once a week. You might have a number of conditions, including infections, hormone imbalances, low blood sugar, kidney ailments or the silent killer, high blood pressure.
More than likely, though, you've got a garden-variety tension-type headache. Start a "headache journal" so you can pinpoint triggers like upsetting food or lights.
Your brain might also be starved of blood thanks to tense shoulders or clenched teeth. Learn more relaxed habits.
Chewing your food thoroughly (30 to 50 times per mouthful) and playing competitive sports might blow off some aggression.
Your risk is even higher if you're the kind of person whose body tightness extends to your emotions - read perfectionists, control freaks, martyrs and overachievers.Sometimes popping a painkiller is the easiest thing to do, but watch out. Overuse of painkillers can cause "toxic headaches" and other potentially dangerous side effects.
Lastly, all the usual advice applies. Skipping meals, dehydration and not getting enough sleep can all feed a hurting head.what the experts say"Try rubbing three or four drops each of peppermint and wintergreen oil in a little bit of carrier oil right into the point of pain. It's a muscle relaxant and increases circulation, and wintergreen is an analgesic. I also use a product by Thorne called Phytoprofen. The main ingredients are bromelain and boswellia, which are anti-inflammatories. It takes about twice as long as ibuprofen to kick in. You'll need to take three of these to one ibuprofen. It's a much safer product, though."
KIMBERLEE BLYDEN-TAYLOR, naturopath
"Sometimes headaches are related to depression or anxiety. But generally speaking, we think tension-type headaches may be caused by a similar mechanism to migraines. They may occur in response to certain triggers like foods, stress or hormonal variations. You can get a medication-induced headache from excessive use of acetaminophen and codeine. Also, certain newer migraine agents like zolmitriptan and rizatriptan can sometimes lead to tension-type headaches."
ALLAN GORDON, MD, associate professor, U of T, neurologist and director, Wasser Pain Management Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital
"In my experience, 80 per cent of headache origins are musculoskeletal. The two biggest other causes are hormones and environmental and food sensitivities. In the neck, the two vertebra C1 and C2 provide nerve and blood flow to the brain. When you can alter that nerve and blood flow (through manipulation) and set it back to normal, headaches improve. I also go to the low back and the feet. I've had clients with headaches as a direct result of uneven feet (this affects the neck). Sometimes just sleeping on a proper cervical chiropractic pillow can make all the difference."
KATRINA KULHAY, chiropractor, nutritionist"Dulcamara is a homeopathic remedy for people who get occasional headaches in cold and wet weather. Calcarea phosphorica treats headaches due to intellectual overwork. Colubrina is good for headaches from overindulgence in food or booze. Ignatia works for emotional stress. If there's a shock or fright, take aconitum. Use a 30C potency. Dose every 15 minutes.'
DANIELLE MOLCAR, homeopath