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Understanding your Headache Pain

The Pain Behind your Headaches

Let’s face it – everyone suffers headaches, and wants to avoid them as much as possible. It’s not just the physical pain that they complain about, but also the mental and financial affects that stem from these headaches.

The Physical Pain Explained

When you suffer a headache, several areas of your head may be painful and the pain may vary depending on the intensity, frequency and duration. For example, the pain can fluctuate from mild to severe, and vice versa before subsiding completely.

What part of your body is affected during a headache attack? Your scalp, face, mouth as well as your throat may be in pain because of the abundance of pain-sensitive nerves in these areas. Your muscles in the head, base in the brain, and blood vessels along the surface will also be in pain because these areas have delicate nerve fibers, which are sensitive to pain.

Contrary to what is being felt, the bones in your skull and the tissues in your brain are never actually in pain during a headache. They do not experience pain because these areas do not have pain-sensitive nerve fibers.

Known as nociceptors, these pain-sensitive nerves have areas that can be stimulated by a wide variety of headache trigger, which includes stress, muscle tension, food and beverages, lights and noise, and dilated blood vessels.

When stimulated, these nociceptors send a specific message to the brain’s nerve cells, signaling that certain parts of the body are in pain. The message depends on the nociceptors’ location – thus, when you realize that your head hurts, you are responding to nociceptors in your head being stimulated.

This signal is transmitted to the brain via a number of chemicals. A few of these chemicals are, in fact, natural painkillers like endorphins (i.e., the body’s natural morphine).

Note: A theory about severe headaches suggest that people who suffer from them have lower levels of endorphins than those who are generally pain-free.

Mental Pain Explained

The frequency, intensity, and duration of headaches can vary widely between individuals; despite that, headaches can and will affect mental function and emotional status before, during and after the attacks.

Even the simple anticipation of a migraine attack can affect your mood to the point that it can affect your social life. You may alarm or irritate others around you due to your mood change.

During the attack itself, you will be unable to think clearly and move normally because of your desire to just curl up and sleep through the pain. After the attack, you will be so drained of energy that you won’t immediately be able to move normally or think clearly.

Even mild headaches can affect your mental and emotional functions because the pain becomes foremost in your mind. It’s no wonder then that headaches can make your body and mind ache for pain relief!

But it is not just physical and mental pain that you will want relief from during a headache attack. The financial pain can be costly particularly in terms of medications, lost productivity at work, and lost profits in business, among others.

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