A bad headache can adversely affect your work, your social life, your ability to exercise, and just make life more difficult. In the United States, headaches annually cause over 100 million sick days. Thanks to hormonal changes, women are much more likely to suffer than men.
The signs of a hormonal headache
Often a hormonal headache has the following symptoms that occur in addition to head pain:
– Loss of appetite
– Decreased urination
– Joint pain
– Skin breakouts
– Lack of coordination
– Cravings for chocolate, salt, or alcohol
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Which hormones can cause a headache?
Estrogen and progesterone are the main culprits when it comes to hormonal headaches. These female hormones may have an influence on a woman’s pain-processing networks as well as the endothelium. The latter is involved in migraines.
Are there any contributing factors?
What can trigger a hormonal headache? There are several factors that can include:
– Onset of menses
– Oral contraception
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How Hormonal therapy can help
Prior to adolescence, boys and girls get headaches with equal frequency. After puberty, however, girls are more likely to get headaches until after menopause. Women can keep a calendar to help figure out if there is a pattern to their headaches. If menstruation seems to be the culprit, there are several options. These include:
1. Starting an OTC or doctor prescribed medication prior to the onset of symptoms
2. Taking oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy
3. Growth Hormone therapy may help if there is a hormone deficiency
4. If pain is extreme, your doctor may recommend shutting down your menstrual cycle
When standard measures such as OTC medications don’t work, hormonal therapy may be suggested by your physician. There are several variations. In some cases, supplemental estrogen will be tried. This can be taken via a pill or through a transdermal patch.
Another approach is for women who are on oral contraceptives to take them every day, without breaks, for a few months. Finally, some doctors prescribe Human Growth Hormone (HGH) therapeutically. This requires a diagnostic blood test to determine if there is a deficiency in HGH; if so, your physician can prescribe the proper dosage for your needs. As for the natural Growth hormone boosting there are great ways to enhance the results of the therapy. Such as sleep, nutrition or even sport. Best exercise for HGH release can be really effective and easy to remember.
Of course, prevention is the best option when it comes to painful headaches. The cause can determine the best approach.
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Hormonal headaches caused by menstruation
When menstruation is the cause, the hormonal therapies discussed above may be the best solution. In addition, you can talk to your doctor about taking magnesium supplements. Some research has shown that low levels of this natural mineral could trigger headaches.
Another option that may help with menstrual headaches is to have your doctor prescribe Triptans. These can be used both to treat a migraine and to prevent headaches.
Headaches caused by pregnancy
Headaches during pregnancy are unfortunately all too common due to hormonal fluctuations. Some natural ways to prevent these painful episodes include:
– Keep a headache diary in which you record foods and odors; if you notice a pattern of headaches following specific items, you can make sure to avoid them.
– Make sure to incorporate moderate physical activity as part of your daily routine.
– Try yoga, tai chi, meditation, or any other regular activities you enjoy to lessen stress.
– Schedule a regular massage or spa day to help you relax.
– Make sure to get enough sleep
– Eat regular, healthy meals and stay hydrated.
– Consider alternative therapies such as biofeedback, acupuncture or music therapy.
If necessary, OTC medications such as acetaminophen are generally considered safe, but talk to your health care provider before taking.
Headaches caused by perimenopause and menopause
In many cases, perimenopause can trigger headaches.. When you stop menstruating, hormonal headaches may stop but tension headaches can occur.
Physicians often prescribe hormonal replacement therapy, which can help, but can also make the problem worse. It’s important to remember that each individual is unique, so if you are experiencing headaches due to perimenopause or menopause, consult with your doctor to determine the cause and treatment options.
Can home remedies ease the condition?
The following home remedies might help naturally treat hormonal headaches:
– Essential oils such as lavender or peppermint
– Supplements such as B2, bromelain, turmeric, EPA, ginger, feverfew, or magnesium
– Drinking coffee, tea, or a caffeinated soft drink may help
– Using stress reduction techniques such as biofeedback, yoga, or meditation
– Sometimes a massage or a chiropractic session could help
– The elements of a healthy lifestyle – nutritious meals, adequate sleep, staying hydrated and getting moderate exercise – are all great ways to reduce the likelihood of headaches
Commonly used medications
The first line of defense is often an OTC pain relief such as acetaminophen. Other medications include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. Since each of these has associated precautions and side effects, discuss with your doctor or pharmacist before taking.
Emergency symptoms that are dangerous to ignore
If in addition to normal headache pain you experience the following symptoms, you should head to an emergency room:
– A high fever
– Nausea or vomiting
– Sudden very intense headache pain
– Fainting or dizziness
– Extreme pressure in the back of your head
– Pain so severe it wakes you up
– Double vision
– Confusion or difficulty in understanding speech, or slurred or garbled speech
– Weakness on one side of your body
– Difficulty walking
– Hearing problems
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