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Got a Headache? Your Body May Be Telling You Something
Date:12/21/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Headaches are truly miserable things. There's little good to be said about throbbing, crushing, skull-pounding pain that makes you wince and moan.

Yet headaches can tell a lot about a person. They can indicate things you're doing that aren't good for you. They also can warn of serious illness.

"A headache can be a symptom of a simple organic disorder, a serious or complicated disorder, or it can be individually characteristic, like a tension headache or a migraine," said Dr. Seymour Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic and director of the inpatient headache unit at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago. "There are multiple causes or variations of headaches."

Dr. Ellen Beck, a family physician and clinical professor in family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, said that people normally have one of two types of headaches: those that result from muscle tension or strain, known as tension headaches; or headaches that result from swelling of the blood vessels in the tissues surrounding the head, called vascular headaches.

These headaches can be a clue that you're doing something in your daily life that is causing stress or harm to your body, Beck said. Lifestyle causes of a headache can include:

  • Not eating enough
  • Dehydration
  • Poor posture at a work station
  • Eyestrain

"The headache can be a message from your body," Beck said. "You don't want to just treat the headache with medicine. You want to play detective and figure out what is causing the headache."

Beck gave the example of a college student who came to her complaining of frequent and terrible headaches. She asked a few questions and found there was a simple explanation for his pain.

"It turned out he was studying and working so hard that he had forgotten to eat," she said. The s
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