IgA Nephropathy patients frequently suffer from headaches apparently connected to their disease (and not necessarily related to high blood pressure). The following headache treatments are offered as safe alternatives to aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin, etc.) and ibuprofen (Motrin, etc.). Aspirin is considered risky in treating children and teens who may have a viral illness, while acetaminophen and ibuprofen are toxic to the kidneys.
Usually, though not always, headaches associated with IgA Nephropathy are vascular headaches (see Throbbing Headache below). Hydrotherapy techniques offer a safe an effective way of relieving headaches by drawing blood from the brain down into the feet and legs. Homeopathic remedies can also be very effective for vascular and other types of headaches, but using them requires close observation as well as abstention from coffee and a few other items.
Different kinds of headaches require different approaches, so ask yourself: How often do these headaches occur and at what time of day? What part of the head is affected? Is the pain throbbing or steady? What makes the pain better? What makes it worse? Do other symptoms accompany the headache? Is the headache associated with eyestrain, catching a cold, menstruation or menopause, constipation, etc.?
STEADY HEADACHE THAT OCCURS IN FOREHEAD OR AROUND THE EYES: This often comes from eyestrain or pressure on the sinuses. If it is a sinus headache, put hot, wet towels over the whole upper face, using as much heat as you can stand. Keep applying for 15 minutes, three or four times a day. Or use nasal irrigation: dissolve _ tsp. salt in 1 cup of warm water; pour this liquid into a small vessel or your cupped hand and inhale it through one nostril at a time (keeping the other nostril closed with your index finger). You can also tilt your head back and squirt the solution gently into your nose with a rubber-bulb syringe. The object is to get the water in through your nose and spit it out your mouth. (It may sound unpleasant, but it actually feels quite good, so long as the water used is nice and warm.)
Another treatment for sinus headaches is to boil two quarts to water in an open pot. Turn the stove off and add 15 drops of oil of eucalyptus, wintergreen, or peppermint to the water. Lean over the pot, covering the head with a towel, and inhale the steam. Do NOT use this treatment, however, if you are using homeopathy: aromatic oils might antidote the homeopathic remedy.
HEADACHE IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD, PRESENT UPON WAKING:
This headache is produced by high blood pressure. Discontinue all stimulants, including caffeine and tobacco. Practice relaxation techniques, including the Deep Breathing Exercise. Take 1,000 mg each of calcium lactate and magnesium at bedtime and 500 mg of each twelve hours later.
THROBBING HEADACHE: A vascular headache, of which the most common type is a migraine, this arises from an imbalance in the arteries of the head. (Cluster headaches are also vascular.) The vascular headache has severe pain, often on one side of the head. Associated symptoms include redness and tearing of the eye on the affected side, runny nose or nasal stuffiness, and visible swelling of the blood vessels on the affected side. The prescription drug ergotamine tartrate is effective for aborting or preventing migraine attacks, but it should not be used in people who have hypertension or renal disease. Vascular-type headaches can also result from caffeine withdrawal. These are not as severe as migraines, but they can last for a day or more. See Vascular Headache Treatment.
ALLERGIC HEADACHE: This usually feels like a dull ache over the forehead and cheeks. Migraines can be precipitated by allergic reactions and such other factors as emotional stress, hypothyroidism, fatigue, bright or flickering lights, high altitudes, cured meats, chicken liver, pickled herring, monosodium glutamate, red wine, dairy products, port, beer, eggs, citrus fruits, corn, onions, nuts, tomatoes, fish, and peanuts. Threat with hydrotherapy (Vascular Headache Treatment) and try to see if you can figure out what is triggering the headache so as to avoid it in the future.
STEADY PAIN COMING UP FROM THE NECK & BACK OF HEAD: This usually indicates a tension headache, especially if it begins in the afternoon or early evening in response to the day’s stresses. Eliminate caffeine from the diet. Use the Deep Breathing Exercise and/or biofeedback to reduce muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and scalp. Use massage, especially shiatsu or Trager work, to further reduce muscular tension. Hydrotherapy (Tension Heachache Treatment) can also be effective in relaxing muscles.
DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
For tension and hypertensive headaches as well as insomnia:
1. Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, about _ behind your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire exercise (you’ll be exhaling through your mouth, around your tongue).
2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to the count of four.
4. Hold your breath to a count of seven.
5. Exhale completely through your mouth again, slowly, to a count of eight.
6. Repeat this cycle three times.
[Adapted from: Dr. Andrew Weil, Natural Health, Natural Medicine (1990), pp. 291-2.]
Keep extremities warm at all times. Weather changers, cold air, and cold drafts can cause headaches in susceptible people. Keep on a regular schedule of meals; avoid eating between meals. Avoid heavy or rich foods or too much protein. Avoid constipation, another source of headaches, by keeping to a diet rich in whole grains and raw fruits and vegetables.
VASCULAR HEADACHE TREATMENT
At the very beginning of a headache, take a 20 minute immersion bath for feet (and hands and forearms, if possible). Using one basin for your feet and another for your hands and arms up to the elbow, fill with 1-2 gallons of HOT water to which 1 tsp. dry mustard has been added. At the same time you’re soaking your feet and hands in hot water, keep a COLD compress on your head.
If the headache continues to develop further, apply a hot water bottle to the base of the skull where it meets the cervical spine. At the same time, apply an ice-water compress to the face, temples, ears, and forehead. After three minutes, exchange these, putting a hot compress on the face and an ice-pack to the base of the skull. Do three sets of these alternating hot/cold packs. At the same time, soak your feet in a moderately hot foot bath.
If the headache persists or recurs, try applying one ice pack to the base of the head, a second ice pack to the forehead, and ice packs or ice-water compresses over both carotid arteries in the neck. Simultaneously, apply hot compresses to the face, covering both ears and forehead. Maintain these for 5-45 minutes, depending on how the headache reacts. If it lets up quickly, stop the treatment. If it persists, continue treatment. Always use these hot/cold compresses with a moderately hot footbath (103-106 degrees Fahrenheit).
Note: The idea behind hydrotherapy treatment is to draw blood away from the head and into the limbs, thereby relieving the congestion, throbbing, and pain. If these treatments seem too complicated, try a hot foot bath with chilled towels or compresses around the neck. Remember that hydrotherapy works best when there is maximum contrast between hot and cold, so keep the hot compresses and foot baths as HOT as you can stand them, and the ice packs or ice-water compresses as COLD as possible. Both have to be refreshed frequently, so it is best to have some help.
VASCULAR HEADACHE WITH NERVOUSNESS
Take a tepid or lukewarm bath for 20-45 minutes. Blot the skin dry rather than rubbing it. Drink a cup of red clover tea (Trifolium pratense) at the headache’s onset. Very soothing, red clover can usually be bought as a tea in health food stores.
TENSION HEADACHE TREATMENT
Use moist heat on the shoulders and back of neck for 20 minutes, followed by a massage of the neck and shoulders and gentle strokes of the fingers over the forehead and through the hair to relax the scalp. You can also massage the scalp with an electric massager.
Alternatively, you can use a steam pack made from a 30″ x 36″ piece of heavy cotton flannel, or wool-cotton fabric, or heavy Turkish towel, folded in thirds. The pack cover should be a soft piece of wool or acrylic large enough to overlap the pack. Head the pack material in a steamer. Cover the area of the body to be treated with a dry towel; place the pack over the towel and cover it with the pack cover. As the pack cools, reheat it in the steamer. (It’s a good idea to have two packs, so you can have one in use and one being reheated at the same time.)
[Adapted from: Drs. Agatha and Calvin Thrush, MD, Home Remedies: Hydrotherapy, Massage, Charcoal and Other Simple Treatments (1981), pp. 112-4, 63-4.]
Homeopathy is an old system of medicine that uses minute doses of different substances (animal, vegetable, or mineral) to stimulate the body’s own healing processes. Even though some of the substances used are toxic if taken in large amounts, homeopathic doses are infinitesimal and NOT TOXIC. Homeopathy is often worth trying first because it can be very quick acting when you choose the right remedy, and it won’t harm you.
Homeopathic remedies are usually in the form of small sugar-based pellets that are placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve. Do not take then within 15-30 minute of eating, or drinking, or brushing your teeth. They taken dry, not with water, in contrast to pharmaceuticals. While you are taking homeopathic remedies, avoid coffee, anything containing menthol, eucalyptus, camphor, or mint – that includes most toothpastes, so use pure baking soda or purchase a homeopathic toothpaste from a health food store.
Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the basis of VERY keen observation of symptoms. The following shows which remedies are appropriate for which symptoms, but it is far from a complete list. If the remedy you select is not working, consult a homeopath.
Take 3 pellets of the best-indicated remedy every half hour, until symptoms are relieved. As soon as the headache starts to feel better, STOP taking the remedy: it’s done its job, and more is definitely not better in homeopathy. If you experience no relief after two or three doses, STOP: you don’t have the right remedy or perhaps the right potency, and you need to consult a homeopath. (Consider consulting a homeopath or naturopath if your headaches are a chronic problem. Proper homeopathic treatment can eliminate the predisposition to develop headaches.)
Most, but by no means all, of the following remedies are available from health stores in potencies ranging from 6c or 6x to 30c or 30x. The higher number indicates a higher potency. Lower potencies may be repeated MORE often (3-4 times a day), whereas higher potencies are repeated LESS often.
If the headache is located at:
— the top of the head – try Cimicifuga racemosa
— in the back of the skull – try Gelsemium
— the temples – try Belladonna
— in the right half of the head – try Belladonna
— above the right eye – try Sanguinaria Canadensis
— above the left eye – try Spigelia
— in the left half of the head – try Spigelia
— alternating pain from one side of the head to the other – try Lac caninum
If the headache seems caused by:
— too much exposure to heat – try Antimonium crudum
— swimming in cold water or a cold bath – try Antimonium crudum or Rhus toxicodendron
— catching cold, especially from having the head uncovered – try Belladonna
— constipation – try Bryonia
— intellectual overwork – try Calcarea phosphorica
— cold and wet weather – try Dulcamara
— sunburn or exposure to the sun – try Glonoine
— strong odors – try Ignatia or Colchicum
— menopause – try Lachesis
— missing a meal – try Lycopodium
— anger, vexation, or annoyance – try Natrum muriaticum or Staphysagria
— a blow to the head, concussion, head injury – try Natrum sulphuricum (see your doctor)
— overeating – try Nux vomica
— eyestrain – try Onosmodium
— getting wet – try Rhus toxicodendron
— muscle fatigue – try Rhus toxicodendron
If the headache is improved by:
— a cool compress to the head – try Aloe socotrina
— moving around – try Rhus toxicodendron
— a nosebleed – try Melilotus officinalis (see your doctor)
— wrapping the head (for warmth) – try Silicea
— wrapping the head tightly (for pressure) – try Argentum Nitricum or Silicea or Pulsatilla
— walking outdoors – try Pulsatilla
— a warm compress – try Silicea
— urinating – try Gelsemium
If the headache is made worse by:
— menstrual periods – try Cimicifuga racemosa
— noise & light – try Belladonna
— coughing or moving – try Bryonia
— riding in a car – try Cocculus indicus
— drinking coffee – try Nux vomica
— the weather just before a storm – try Phosphorus
— eating meals or overeating – try Pulsatilla
— drinking tea – try Thuja
— drinking wine – try Zincum
— drafts of air – try Silicea
— stooping – try Belladonna, Bryonia, Pulsatilla or Spigelia
If the headache is accompanied by:
— a sensation the head is about to burst – try Cimicifuga racemosa
— throbbing and a hot head – try Belladonna
— throbbing in the carotid arteries of face and neck – try Glonoine
— a sensation a nail has been driven into the head – try Coffea cruda
— heavy eyelids – try Gelsemium
— a sensation of hammers beating inside the head – try Natrum muriaticum
— a sensation of the eyes being pulled back into the head – try Paris quadrifolia
— great thirst – try Bryonia
— the need to urinate – try Gelsemium
— visual disturbances or vomiting that burns – try Iris versicolor
— a ruddy, congested face, with a nosebleed – try Melilotus officinalis (see your doctor)
— watering or tearing of the eyes – try Pulsatilla
– shivering, shaking, or sensitivity to the cold – try Silicea
– diarrhea or cold sweats – try Veratrum album
Article By: IgA Nephropathy Support Network