Headaches – Tests and Diagnosis
When you report to your doctor for headaches, the doctor will review your medical history and family history and perform a physical examination as well. He may deem that additional tests are necessary to help him attain an accurate diagnosis. If you have had previous testing, it is essential that your doctor gets hold of them to avoid needless expense and redundant tests.
Specific tests may be done to basically exclude a more basic cause of a secondary headache. Tests that may be utilized are:
- PET scans
- EEG or electro-encephalogram
- CT scan or MRI – Short for computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging respectively, a CT scan can see if your head show signs of strokes, tumors or sinus problems while an MRI may provide a more definitive view of problems in your brain or head. Both technologies can hematomes, concussions, sinus problems, malignant diseases, skull fractures and other kinds of health problems.
- Urinalysis and Blood Chemistry – These are tests that take urine and blood samples to see if you suffer from specific health conditions like infections or thyroid problems which can cause headaches.
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture
- Sinus X-Ray – This type of x-ray can provide more information especially if your symptoms show problems in your sinus.
- Ophthalmology and neurological tests – An ophthalmology test like an eye pressure test can reveal or rule out glaucoma. Neurological tests on the other hand, look for any neurological problems and epilepsy that can cause headache.
Some results of these tests may be insufficient to accurately locate the headache but they validate the observations of the doctor to confirm that worse underlying conditions are not the cause of the headache.
With the utilization of neuromuscular dental analysis and treatment, the headaches referred below may be addressed effectively.
Migraine headaches – Migraines are primarily diagnosed according to the medical history of the patient. Only with the observation of the episodes of vomiting and/or nausea can the physician be able to distinguish the external symptoms of migraine.
Tension headache – Usually during the examination, this type of headache will not exhibit any sensitivity or pain with the patient appearing all well and normal
Secondary headaches – Most of the time, the existence of secondary headaches indicate trauma to the patient’s head with the patient exhibiting signs of traumatic brain injury. Some of these headaches are less severe and can be detected by the aforementioned tests above.
Cluster headaches – Cluster headaches can be diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history. They can also be directly observed during appointment when their symptoms or signs may manifest.
Headaches that suddenly come and are extremely painful should be seen, diagnosed and treated immediately by the doctor. Chronic headaches usually are addressed by a treatment plan concocted by the doctor. The objective of the plan is to mitigate as much as possible the severity and the frequency of the headache.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly used treatment to help lessen the ache and frequency of headaches.
Abortive drugs – These medications are given by the doctor to stop the pain and are taken immediately when the headache begins. The kinds of abortive drugs are:
- Muscle relaxants
- Triptans – Samples of these drugs include Zomig, Amerge and Imitrex and are given for the alleviation of cluster headaches and migraine
- Ergot medications – These medications come from the ergot fungus that is found on rye. These drugs are used for migraines. They constrict the blood vessels in the head to minimize the pain.
- Pain relievers – Also called analgesics and include acetaminophen and aspirin.
- Preventative drugs – These medications are effective for chronic headaches and prevent the recurrence of the headache.
- Serotonin reuptake inhibitors – Also called SSRIs, these are antidepressants that control serotonin levels in your body. Types of SSRIs include Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox and Prozac
- NSAIDS or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Natural Therapies for Headaches
A lot of people are quite dissatisfied with the effects of prescribed or OTC drugs. They help lessen the headache symptoms but never treat their root problems. Many don’t like taking these medications because of the nasty side effects of these drugs. Many of these headache sufferers have been using alternative and natural headache remedies because they are safer, more effective and some directly address the underlying cause of the headache. Most of the time, the patient avails of one or more of these remedies and combines these treatments for more effective results.
Self Treatments – These can be:
- Lying on the back without using a pillow
- Hot showers
- Gentle and slow neck roll exercises
Acupuncture – This is a very versatile therapy that has been used to treat dozens of health conditions for many thousands of years. Acupuncture for headache treatment is probably the best alternative treatment for headache. To treat your headache, the practitioner applies needles in certain parts of your body like the:
Acupuncture headache treatments may last between 5 minutes to up to an hour which depends on how severe your headache is. There are patients who get immediate relief in just one session while some may need two or more sessions to get the full benefits of the treatment
Chiropractic and/or Osteopathic Therapy – Chiropractic treatment is done by repairing subluxation (the misalignment of the spinal joint to the spine) that can cause your headache. By adjusting and properly aligning your spine, chiropractic medicine is a great way to eliminate pain in you head and neck.
The teaming up of an osteopath, chiropractor and neuromuscular dentist to make orthotic adjustments to the neuro-skeletal system can help to permanently address certain types of headaches.
Biofeedback – With this technique you are trained to subconsciously address problems in your body processes. Learning to use your mind in repairing problems in your body can help you effectively treat headaches and other associated conditions.
Christina Prieto is an Orlando acupuncturist, a certified Yoga instructor and the founder of Harmony Wellness center in central Florida.