Why do we get headaches? | Head Squeeze


Hey Head Squeezers, hope you’re well Really good question that’s actually come
in from a few different places this time. We’ve got Haydn SHYickin who posted this in
our G+ community, thank you very much. And also michobebemckawii, who posted this in
a you tube comment in our Head Squeeze discussion page Both posted a question which was: What are
headaches and how do we get them? A very very interesting one, and of course
they are the bane of so, so peoples lives so great question, I’m looking forward to
unpacking this one. I should obviously say that head squeeze is
not your doctor so if you do get very serious headaches or regular head aches then go see
your local physician. But if you’re interested in the science of
headaches then you’ve come to the right place, so stick with us. Now, there are a whole range of different
types of headaches, not just the kind that my dad gets when he tries to write a text
message on his archaic mobile phone. I’m going to introduce you to tension headaches
— that’s the first kind of dull ache that lots of us get, quite regularly actually. And also vascular headaches, those are the
Migraines and the cluster headaches of this world. And in my research I found some people talking
about cluster headaches, and they say that they feel like having a red-hot poker shoved
in their eye– nasty! So why do we get them? First things first, the brain is not sensitive
to pain, so you never get a headache from your brain. So if after a really long hard
day I say ‘my brain really hurts’ I’m kind of speaking a load of rubbish — you’re allowed
to tell me that, that’s totally cool. So what’s happening? Well, the pain has got to be around your brain
somewhere. And there’s loads of places where that could come from. As I explained in my film about tickleishness
and actually why we get tickled. The skin is sensitive to pain, as are your bones, and
structures in your ears, your nose, your mouth. And it’s there that the pain comes from. Now what about the tension headache, that
kind of dull ache that we all tend to get quite often. Well, that comes from holding
your muscles in a semi-contracted state for quite a long period of time. That muscle tension, that may come from the
neck, or the face, or actually the meninges — the tissues around your brain, that help
protect your brain – that muscles tension fires your pain receptors and sends a message
to your brain, the sensory cortex, and that’s why you feel it as pain. That tension could come from emotional stress,
it could come from poor eye sight, or, or the wrong prescription. And what we normally
do is just take some paracetamol that gets rid of it. Now paracetamol is very interesting, it acts
in the brain, it inhibits the pain and inflammation causing chemicals called prostaglandins Now, the more intense headaches, the migraines
of this world, they are called vascular headaches. Reason being, the main culprit for those are
the large blood vessels. More specifically, it’s a changed blood flow to your cerebral
cortex. Science doesn’t really know how or why they
happen. One theory might be that there is a spasm
in one of the cerebral arteries – that reduces the flow of blood and causes a localised lack
of oxygen. Another idea is that maybe there is swelling
in the blood vessels and that produces, there is swelling pushing on the nerves that causes
the pain. Science isn’t really sure just yet. Migraines can be set off by the weather, by
bad diet, bad sleep, stress – and they tend to last between 4 and 72 hours. Interestingly, 1 in 5 migraine sufferers report
having a visual disturbance like a flash of light or zig-zag lines in front of their vision
before their migraine kicks in. Now, researchers think that the neurotransmitter,
serotonin, must have something to do with migraines, because the drugs used to treat
migraines change the way that serotonin bonds to various receptors Bad news, I’m afraid, for anyone watching
who has 2 ‘X’ chromosomes, yes, women, you are more likely to get a migraine by a factor
of three, down to hormonal changes. Now, finally, cluster headaches, they are
the really serious headaches that last for weeks, if not months. They are normally found
on one side of the head or around the eye. Not really sure what causes them, but scientists
reckon again that it’s to do with the blood flow to the brain, and it may be kicked off
by substances that affect that blood flow like alcohol. I don’t know if any of you have chugged tea
and coffee during the day and then got what we can only call a caffeine headache once
you’ve got home. Caffeine restricts the flow of blood to the brain, so as soon as you stop
drinking it you get a rush of blood to the brain. Oh, one more thing I’d like to mention is
‘medication overuse headaches.’ These are headaches caused by taking pain
medication for a really long amount of time. And a german study reckons it could now affect
about 4% of the population! Again, they’re not sure why it actually causes
these headaches. They think maybe that pain medication for such a long period of time
switches off these control system, the pain control system. The best way to get rid of
it is just to go completely cold turkey. Bonus fact at the end, of course: 2,000 years
ago the people of the Western Han Dynasty treated their headaches with a chilli-like
fruit. Anyway. That’s all the time I’ve got right
now, please do keep sending in your question, we will answer one of them every Thursday
here at ask Headsqueeze. Put them in the comments below these videos, join our G+ community
and join in the discussion there. Until next time, Happy Head Squeezing!

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