It’s been a busy day, and your head is hurting. But you cannot stop now – you have work to do, kids to entertain and teach, plus responsibilities on everything from your family’s health to travel planning. So what to do? You probably pop a painkiller tablet and carry on.
Headaches are one of the most common neurological problems, with an estimated 80 percent of adults suffering at least one headache in the past year. No-one’s quite sure how many people in Singapore suffer from migraine headaches, but a study by Duke-NUS Medical School into local sufferers found it damaged their quality of life. Respondents missed 9.8 work days a year, on average, due to migraine – and many of them forced themselves to go to work even though their head was splitting. Yet headaches remain one of the most unrecognised and unreported disorders.
Why do we put up with this suffering? “When it comes to pain, many women think they have to ‘just deal with it’ and carry on,” says Associate Professor Lauren Sanders, a neurologist and co-secretary of the Australian and New Zealand Headache Society. “It’s common for women who have bad headaches to also have menstrual problems. But many women do not even think that their health could be better.”
Professor Sanders notes that it is common for women to describe their headaches as “normal”, but trying to tahan or endure a bad headache can make it worse. “Headaches show your body is out of balance and needs attention.” For example, psychological and emotional stress can increase migraine headaches. Says Prof Sanders, “The three non medical things you can do to reduce headaches are; Get enough hydration. Drink enough water. Get enough quality sleep and manage stress.”
So let’s look at what may be really causing your headache — and what you can do about them: