Consult a doctor next time you have a headache!

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

It would be almost impossible to locate here a person who has not had ever a headache. But most often you shrug it off a minor irritant but never a disease that can cause you permanent harm.

Doctors say that headaches are essentially a manifestation of a latent problem within the system and a pain killer at hand only redeems the pain but not the disease. Worse, headaches, as an ailment, are an ever growing phenomenon cutting across age groups, especially in urban India.

Experts fear a common treatment to headaches is another area of concern since headaches are induced by a variety of reasons; therefore, the need for attention of a specialist.

The medical community does not currently map headaches as a disease in the country. But according to World Health Organization (WHO) factsheet on headache, globally, it has been estimated that the prevalence among adults of current headache disorder (symptomatic at least once within the last year) is 47 percent.

Half to three quarters of the adults aged 18–65 years in the world have had headache in the last year and among those individuals, more than ten percent have reported migraine. Also, headache on 15 or more days every month affects 1.7 to four percent of the world’s adult population.

Detailing the reasons behind the prevalence of headaches, Dr. A K Bali, consultant, internal medicine at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi, says , “ The common reasons of headaches include lack of sleep, oversleep, fasting for long on regular intervals, too much of stress and tension and intake of cholesterol-rich diet.”

According to a study, ‘The Global Burden of Headache: A Documentation of Headache Prevalence and Disability Worldwide’, published in the Cephalalgia journal in 2007, globally the percentages of the adult population with an active headache disorder are 42 percent for Tension –type headache(TTH) and three percent for Chronic Daily Headache(CDH). br>
Tension headache is the most common type of primary headaches also in India. Concurring with the above view, Dr. Sanjay Kumar Saxena, principal consultant & head of neurology at Fortis Hospital, Noida, says, “Tension-type headache accounts for nearly 90 percent of all headaches. Approximately three percent of the population has chronic tension-type headache.”

Above all headache disorders are disabling worldwide; migraine on its own is the cause of 1.3 percent of all years of life lost to disability, according to WHO estimates. br>
Endorsing the above view, Dr. Bali at Moolchand says, “Migraine affects 10 to 20 percent of the general population and can affect anyone at any age but it is most common in children and adults. It is the second-most common type of primary headache.”

Before puberty, boys and girls are generally affected equally but after puberty more women than men are affected.

Commenting on the severity of headaches, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, senior consultant, neurology at Rockland Hospital, Delhi, says, “Generally tension type headache is not very severe and does not disturb sleep. But migraine headache may get severe and may also be associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia. Severity may increase with movements or jerks. Such headache may affect daily routine also.”

Emphasising that prevention is better than cure, Dr. Bali at Moolchand, says, “One should have lots of fluids like water and fresh fruit juices, and avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee which dehydrates the body.”

“To have a balanced diet at right time and a good night sleep is a prerequisite requirement to overcome headaches,” further adds Dr. Bali at Moolchand. br>
Doctors also warn against regular use of painkillers to cure headaches, especially if taken without consultation, since overuse runs the risk of causing other ailments like kidney and liver disorder.

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