Frequent headaches – Part I: The problem

 
 
 

Headaches are a worldwide problem that affect people of all ages, races, income levels and geographical areas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% to 75% of adults aged between 18-65 years have suffered a headache in the last year and amongst them more than 10% have reported migraine.

There are different types of headache: tension headache (due to tight muscles in shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw; often related to stress, depression or anxiety), migraine (recurring attacks of moderate to severe throbbing pain, often on one side of the head, with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light), cluster headache (repeated headaches, often on one side of the head, that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose) and headache caused by specific conditions (e.g., medication overuse).

Headaches are not only painful, but also disabling. Repeated headaches damage quality of life and may predispose to other illnesses (e.g., depression is three times more common in people with migraine or severe headaches than in healthy people).

Chronic migraines and chronic tension headaches may evolve into chronic daily headaches (defined as presence of headaches lasting 4 hours or more for 15 or more days per month over at least 3 months). Patients with chronic daily headache often achieve only transient relief with conventional medical management and, moreover, in many cases there are medication side effects that include weight gain, fatigue and depression, amongst others.

In the next post, we will explain how dietary intervention increasing omega-3 and reducing omega-6 fatty acids may reduce headache pain and improve quality-of-life.

 

References

 
 

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