Each day in the UK, about 10 million of us suffer from some type of pain. Some will experience a brief and fleeting headache or perhaps an aching back after a hard day’s manual work, but for some, their pain is ongoing and constant due to conditions like arthritis, chronic backache and recurring headaches.

When you are in pain, it might be a sign that something is wrong. How you personally react to the warning signs is your decision. If you do experience severe pain, particularly if it is something you have never had before, it is critical that you seek advice from your IPSA physician. If you are already aware of what your problem is then you might choose conventional types of painkillers or complementary and/or physical therapies to treat your pain.

Most of us get the occasional headache, and knowing if your headache is due to muscle tension, is a migraine headache or is another type of headache can help you when choosing the most appropriate headache remedy.

Tension headaches

A tension headache generally feels like a band is tightening around your head, your neck and shoulders. This type of headache is sometimes linked to muscle tension brought about through stress or a poor posture. Painkillers often help with occasional headaches, but if you have regular or perhaps chronic headaches, then you need to remember how taking painkillers frequently, especially ones containing codeine, can make your headaches even worse and often more frequent. Speak to your IPSA pharmacist on how to manage your tension headaches most effectively.

Migraine headaches

A migraine headache is a particularly painful and throbbing headache. Often, a migraine is accompanied by nausea, by vomiting and/or by sensitivity to bright lights/noise. Most people prefer to stay still and quiet when they are experiencing a migraine.

Most people believe that a headache is only a migraine if it is accompanied by numbness in the body or blurred vision, yet only one in six migraine sufferers experience these symptoms.
Migraine sufferers should take painkillers on first noticing the warning signs of a migraine. Lie down in a dark and quiet room, and apply a cold compress to your forehead to alleviate symptoms.

Speak to your IPSA pharmacist about your IPSA Pharmacy’s treatments for migraines.

Other types of headache

Sometimes, a headache can be a sign of another problem, for example, arthritis in your neck, disturbed sleep, inflamed sinuses or a viral illness (e.g. colds and the flu).

Visit your IPSA physician if your headache is causing difficulty when moving or speaking, any persistent changes in your vision, a stiff neck, convulsions, vomiting, a high fever, a rash or any other worrying symptoms.

How can I reduce my risk of getting a headache?

Maintain good fluid levels by drinking enough water to allay your thirst

  • Do not skip meals
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Keep an eye on your stress levels and find time in each day to relax
  • Identify your triggers by keeping a headache diary for three months