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Headache

Headaches can throw off your plans, limit your activities, and keep you from enjoying life to the fullest. According to the University Health Report (2018), one in five TUK students experience headaches at least once a week. We want to help you get a better grip on your headaches and give you tips on what you can actively do about them.


The prerequisite for dealing with your own headaches properly is a certain basic knowledge: What are headaches anyway? What kind of headache do I suffer from? Can I take as many painkillers as I want?

You can find out all this on this page.

What are headaches?

There are over 200 types of headache in total. These can be divided into primary headaches, those that occur independently, and secondary headaches, those that are a symptom of another condition.

The two primary types of headache most commonly occur are tension headache and migraine.

Migraine is often a unilateral pulsating-pounding headache that is accompanied by a number of accompanying symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. An attack can last from a few hours to several days. Migraine affects approximately 6 - 8% of men and 12 - 14% of women. Migraine can be triggered by a number of triggers, which vary from person to person.

Tension headache occurs in 46-78% of people worldwide at least once in their lifetime, making it the most common type of headache. It is usually described as oppressive with mild to moderate pain intensity (International Headache Society, 2018).

According to the RKI, 57.5% of women and 44.4% of men in Germany experience headaches in a year. In this context, 14.8% of women and 6% of men meet the complete criteria for migraine, and 10.3% of women and 6.5% of men meet those of tension headache (Porst et al., 2020).

In addition to these two types of headache, there are many others, e.g., cluster headache or unusual forms such as thunderclap or coin headache. However, since the two forms migraine and tension headache are by far the most common forms of headache, we present you a quick test to find out which of the two forms you are more likely to suffer from (Göbel, 2012).

 

Göbel, H. (2012). Die Kopfschmerzen. Ursachen, Mechanismen, Diagnostik, Therapie. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Verlag.

International Headache Society (Hrsg.) (2018). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalagia, 38 (1), S. 1-211.

Porst, M., Wengler, A., Leddin, J., Neuhauser, H., Katsarava, Z., v. d. Lippe, E., Anton, A., Ziese, T. & Rommel, A. (2020). Migräne und Spannungskopfschmerz in Deutschland. Prävalenz und Erkrankungsschwere im Rahmen der Krankheitslast-Studie BURDEN 2020. Journal of Health Monitoring, 5 (S 6), S. 1 - 26.

Which headache type are you?

The headache quick test was developed by the German neurologist Prof. Dr. Göbel and asks with only three questions whether you rather suffer from tension headaches or migraine. It is important to emphasize that this test does not replace a medical diagnosis, but it can provide you with some initial information. If you cannot assign yourself to either type of headache, then it is possible that you are suffering from a medication-overuse headache, for example. You can find out what this is below the prevention tips. However, since headaches can take many different forms, it is of course possible that you have another type of headache that rarely occurs. Therefore, it is best to see a doctor to discuss the results and how to proceed.

 

 

based on Göbel, H. (2012). Erfolgreich gegen Kopfschmerzen und Migräne (6. Auflage). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag. S. 19.

prevention tips

To prevent headaches from occurring in the first place, we would like to provide you with some important prevention tips. These differ depending on the type of headache (migraine or tension headache). So first use the test to see which type of headache you suffer from to get the tips that are right for you.

 

[Translate to English:]

Prevention tip
Migraine tension type headache
SleepEat something before bed and try to go to bed at approximately the same time on all days. Avoid looking at screens before going to bed.
Establish a relaxing evening ritual: for example, drink a cup of tea (without caffeine, of course), tidy your room, stretch, or write down what you are grateful for. Try to avoid screens before bed. 
Learning environment
If you suffer from migraines quickly, it is best to work with artificial light so that the light stimulus remains constant and avoid flickering light. Find a quiet place to work, where you are confronted with few stimuli from your environment.
Make sure to sit upright and relaxed while studying so as not to fall into a cramped or hunched posture.Muscular tension can contribute to the development of headaches.
break design
Make sure you take regular breaks and then rest for at least 30 minutes. Avoid using your laptop or cell phone during breaks to help you relax.Remember to regularly air out your study room to provide your brain with fresh oxygen. Keep getting up and interrupting your sitting to give your body a break from concentration. Move around during your breaks.
relaxationLearn a relaxation technique and give yourself a regular break in which you can calm down. Progressive muscle relaxation is particularly suitable. It's best to do this form of relaxation lying down, but you can also do it sitting up. On the TK-site, you can choose between a long version (about 30 minutes) or a short version (about 15 minutes) and you can choose whether you want to do the muscle relaxation with or without music. Find a comfortable position, make yourself at home, close your eyes and let yourself go. Afterwards you will feel much more relaxed - promise!

physical activtiyMache regelmäßig Sport, um Migräneattacken vorzubeugen. Geeignet sind vor allem Ausdauersportarten wie Joggen oder Fahrradfahren. Studien zeigen, dass regelmäßiges Ausdauertraining zu einer Reduktion an Migränetagen führt. Auch ein Einfluss auf die Schmerzintensität und die Attackendauer werden vermutet. Achte darauf, deinen Körper nicht zu überfordern und dich nicht zu überanstrengen. The German Society for Neurology recommends endurance training 2-3x/week for tension headaches. Training of the neck and shoulder muscles and stretching exercises are also useful, as headaches are often the result of tension. Exercise in the fresh air is particularly advisable for tension headaches.
foodBe sure to eat regularly and never skip a meal. Recommended are 3 main meals and 2 snacks per day. When choosing food, you should prefer complex carbohydrates, e.g. whole grain products, as they provide your body with energy over a longer period of time. For some people, certain foods can trigger migraines. Pay attention to whether there is a connection between your eating habits and your migraines. If you have identified foods as triggers, try to avoid them as much as possible.
Take time to eat and focus on what you're eating. Don't get distracted by Netflix or your smartphone. You'll eat slower and more consciously, and your body will recover better. Again, make sure you eat complex carbohydrates.
drinking

Drink plenty of water and tea during the day. Avoid sweetened or other unhealthy drinks as much as possible. Studies have shown that migraine sufferers who drink 1.5 liters or more of water per day have a better quality of life than those who drink less. Also, migraine patients who drink more water and tea report lower migraine severity, pain intensity, headache frequency and duration than those who drink less. Alcohol is one of the most common most common trigger factors of migraine and should therefore be avoided.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially in the morning, and about 2-3 liters throughout the day. Caffeinated beverages are okay, but should only be consumed in moderate amounts (<400 mg caffeine/day), as larger amounts of caffeine may cause headaches. Since caffeine withdrawal can also result in headaches, if you are a caffeine consumer, be sure to drink caffeinated beverages regularly.
smokingIt's best to smoke as little as possible. Replace a cigarette break with an exercise break in the fresh air if you quickly suffer from tension headaches. A Norwegian study shows that (former) smokers have a slightly increased risk of migraines.   Passive smoking also increases the prevalence of headaches. The best way to find out if this is the case for you is to keep a headache diary.


Progressive muscle relaxation: www.tk.de/techniker/magazin/life-balance/aktiv-entspannen/progressive-muskelentspannung-zum-download-2021142

Kommission Leitlinien der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurologie (Hrsg.) (2015).

Therapie des episodischen und chronischen Kopfschmerzes vom Spannungstyp und anderer chronischer täglicher Kopfschmerzen. Leitlinien für Diagnostik und Therapie in der Neurologie. Berlin: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurologie. 

Lemmens, J. et al. (2019). The effect of aerobic exercise on the number of migraine days, duration and pain intensity in migraine: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 20 (1): 16. 

Spigt, M., Weerkamp, N., Troost, J., van Schayck, C. P. & Knottnerus, J. A. (2012). A randomized trial on the effects of regular water intake in patients with recurrent headaches. Family Practice, 29 (4), S. 370-375.

Khorsha, F., Mirzababaei, A., Togha, M. & Mirzaei, K. (2020). Association of drinking water and migraine headache severity. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 77, S. 81-84.

Martin, V. & Vij, B. (2016). Diet and Headache: Part 1. Headache, 56 (9), S. 1543 - 1552.

Kreutzkamp, B. (2018). Rauchen erhöht das Migränerisiko. Schmerzmedizin, 34 (3), S. 16.

Aamodt, A. H., Stovner, L. J., Hagen, K., Brathen, G. & Zwart, J. (2006). Headache prevalence related to smoking and alcohol use. The Head-HUNT Study. European Journal of Neurology, 13 (11), S. 1233-1238.  

 

Göbel, H. (2012). Erfolgreich gegen Kopfschmerzen und Migräne (6. Auflage). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag.

Frisch, K. & Göbel, H. (o.J.). Step by Step: Kopfschmerzen vom Spannungstyp. Zugriff am 19.01.21 unter headache-hurts.de/step-by-step-kopfschmerz-vom-spannungstyp

Frisch, K. & Göbel, H. (o.J.). Step by Step: Migräne. Zugriff am 19.01.21 unter headache-hurts.de/step-by-step-migraene

First aid for headaches

Painkillers are a proven and popular remedy for headaches. Many throw it in at the first sign of a headache. However, there is a guideline you should stick to. Taking painkillers too often can itself lead to a headache called a medication-overuse headache (MOH).

Signs of an MOH may include having headaches more than 15 days a month, having increasingly frequent headaches, or taking medication for headaches at least 10 days a month.

To avoid an ME, try to stick to the "10/20 rule": only take painkillers on a maximum of 10 days a month and refrain from taking them on 20 days a month.

Tip: For tension headaches, you can also massage peppermint oil on your forehead and temples.
Studies have shown that 10% peppermint oil helps just as well as pain pills and has similar effects in terms of effectiveness, speed of onset, and pain intensity reduction. Compared to placebo treatment, pain is highly significantly reduced by peppermint oil. To achieve this, simply apply the oil to the painful areas (temples and forehead) and massage it in. Just give it a try!

  • Aigner, M. (2016). Medikamentenübergebrauchskopfschmerz. Diagnostische Kriterien und Fallbeispiele. Psychopraxis. Neuropraxis, 19, S. 43-47.
  • Göbel, H. (2012). Erfolgreich gegen Kopfschmerzen und Migräne (6. Auflage). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag. S. 19.
  • Göbel, H., Heinze, A., Heinze-Kuhn, K., Göbel, A. & Göbel, C. (2016). Oleum menthae pipertae (Pfefferminzöl) in der Akuttherapie des Kopfschmerzes vom Spannungstyp. Der Schmerz, 30, 295-310.
  • Schmerzklinik Kiel GmbH & Co KG (2016). Medikamenten-Übergebrauchs-Kopfschmerz:10-20-Regel. Zugriff am 13.01.21 unter schmerzklinik.de/medikamenten-uebergebrauch-kopfschmerz-10-20-regel/

headache calendar

The best way to understand your headaches is to observe them closely. When do they occur? How do they feel? How long do they last? What were you doing immediately before? How much did you drink that day? How stressed are you right now? What did you eat beforehand? What measure helps you against the headache? Write down as much as you can, because the more you know, the better you can manage your headaches.

So that you don't have to remember everything, the headache calendar is a proven method to record everything important. You will develop an understanding of your triggers and your therapy strategies.

The best thing to do is to get the
CampusPlus headache calender, print it out and hang it on your fridge. Here you can enter all the important information and thus get a good overview. There are also apps that you can use if you prefere.

 

 

 

  • Göbel, H. (2012). Erfolgreich gegen Kopfschmerzen und Migräne (6. Auflage). Heidelberg: Springer Medizin Verlag. S. 19.
  • Göbel, H., Heinze, A., Heinze-Kuhn, K., Göbel, A. & Göbel, C. (2016). Oleum menthae pipertae (Pfefferminzöl) in der Akuttherapie des Kopfschmerzes vom Spannungstyp. Der Schmerz, 30, 295-310.
  • International Headache Society (Hrsg.) (2018). The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition. Cephalagia, 38 (1), S. 1-211.
  • Lesener, T., Blaszcyk, W., Gusy, B. & Sprenger, M. (2018). Wie gesund sind Studierende der Technischen Universität Kaiserslautern? Ergebnisse der Befragung 06/18 (Schriftenreihe des AB Public Health: Prävention und psychosoziale Gesundheitsforschung: Nr. 02/P18). Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Schmerzklinik Kiel GmbH & Co KG (2016). Medikamenten-Übergebrauchs-Kopfschmerz:10-20-Regel. Zugriff am 13.01.21 unter schmerzklinik.de/medikamenten-uebergebrauch-kopfschmerz-10-20-regel/
  • Frisch, K. & Göbel, H. (o.J.). Kopfschmerz & Migräne an der Hochschule kompetent vorbeugen. Zugriff am 19.01.21 unter headache-hurts.de/headache
  • DMKG (o.J.). DMKG-Kopfschmerzkalender. Zugriff am 18.01.21 unter https://www.dmkg.de/files/dmkg.de/PDF-Dokumente/Kopfschmerzkalender_DEUTSCH_5.11.2019.pdf.
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