QHICK HEADACHE RELIEF WITHOUT DRUGS
How to Relieve Your Headache in Seconds: A Physicans Do-It-Yourself Technique
By Howard D. Kurland, M.D.
William Morrow and Company, Inc.
New York 1977
A Bernard Geis Associates Book
Beginning on page 165 and ending on page 185
I HAVE GIVEN sinus headaches this chapter and the next to themselves because I want you to take them very, very seriously. If a physician diagnoses your headaches as being caused wholly or partly by a problem in the sinuses, you should put yourself in his care and consult him regularly during all the time you are using autoacupressure for the pain. Auto-acupressure can relieve the pain, but it will not combat sinus disease itself. The disease may or may not be dangerous, but it makes no sense to take chances.
I met an American woman living in Hong Kong who had been given acupuncture treatments for sinus headaches. The treatments almost completely alleviated the pain, and she was well satisfied with them-until an alert physician discovered that the disease, in this case bacterial sinusitis, had progressed to a very dangerous point. The sinusitis had eroded part of the sinus bone, and the infection was rapidly making its way to her brain. Her life was rescued by emergency neurosurgery and antibiotics.,
Whether you use acupressure or aspirin or any other pain-relieving approach for your sinus headache, you are taking grave risks if you do so without also having a medical doctor treat the underlying disease.
The so-called sinus headaches spring from various kinds of allergies, infections, and other problems in a group of bony cavities called the paranasal sinuses.
These cavities make the skull lighter than it would otherwise be, and they also serve to give resonance to the voice.
In most people, there are four pairs of paranasal sinus cavities. They are connected with the nose and are lined with extensions of the same mucous membrane that lines the nasal passages.
The frontal sinuses are above the eyes and the root of the nose. They give rise to the ridge or prominence between your eyebrows. In some animals-elephants and owls, for instance-they are proportionately much bigger than in man, and they give those animals a bulging forehead and a reputation for braininess. In man, they vary widely in size and shape. They are usually very small or nonexistent in a newborn baby, and they develop gradually and irregularly as the individual grows. In about fifteen percent of men and women, only one frontal sinus develops, and about five percent have no frontal sinuses at all.
The sphenoid sinuses and ethmoid sinuses are lower in the skull, near the eyes and behind the cheekbones. They do not vary as much in size or shape as do the frontal sinuses. The sphenoid sinus begins to develop at about three years of age and does not reach adult size until adolescence.
The maxillary sinuses are farther back in the skull, above the back teeth. When they are diseased, they may cause pain that is mistakenly felt as a toothache.
THE SINUS PRESSURE POINTS. The Sinus 1 pair are directly above the pupils of your eyes, and the Sinus 2 pair are directly below. Nose 1-the only headache pressure point that isn't part of a pair-is centered precisely between your two eyebrows.
Many things can go wrong in these sinus cavities. A bacterial or viral infection can lead to suppuration, in which the cavity fills with pus. Swelling in infected membranes can close off the passages through which the cavities normally drain, and this generally makes the infection more dangerous and more painful. Among other problems that can affect the sinuses are cysts, polyps, tumors, and allergic edema, or swelling of the sinus lining.
Any of these malfunctions can cause pain in various parts of the head. If you are trying to judge whether a headache is of sinus origin rather than springing from some other cause, here are some of the more common distinguishing symptoms:
Location of pain. In frontal sinus disease, the pain is usually felt behind or above the eyes, sometimes on just one side of the head. The forehead may be tender to the touch.
In ethmoid disease, you are likely to feel pain between the eyes. This pain is not often localized on one side.
When the sphenoid sinuses are involved, the pain is usually deep within the head and may not be easy to distinguish from a migraine headache. In the case of maxillary disease, the pain may be over the back teeth and may spread to the cheeks and the region behind the eyes. It is often localized on one side.
Nature of the pain. A sinus-caused headache generally is constant, rather than throbbing. There may be occasional attacks of sharp, shooting pain through or around the eyes, followed by periods when the pain subsides to a more dull, heavy aching. In frontal sinusitis, some patients notice that the pain seems to begin in midmorning and subside in midafternoon. There may be headaches for several days or a week, followed by a week or two of freedom from pain.
What affects the pain? Sinus headaches often grow sharper when you stoop forward. Sudden jarring of the body, as in running or jumping, may cause spasms of sharp, shooting pain.
Unlike a tension headache, a sinus headache may not respond well to closing the eyes or lying down in a darkened room. In some cases, as a matter of fact, lying down can temporarily increase the pain.
Fever. Some sinus infections are accompanied by a high fever, others by a recurrent, slight fever. This is not true of all sinus problems, however. If the pain is caused by swelling of the sinus linings due to allergy, there may be no fever at all.
Disturbances of smell and taste. Like the common cold, a sinus condition can block the nasal passages. This often leads to anosmia, the loss of the sense of smell. If you lose the sense of smell, you are also likely to lose at least some of your sense of taste. Foods may seem less interesting than they once did. Less commonly, a sinus infection can bring on a condition called parosmia, in which you seem to smell peculiar odors that are not really there.
Nasal discharge. There may be a discharge of clear mucus-a seemingly ordinary "runny nose," as with a cold. The discharge may also contain pus and other material drained from the affected sinus cavity. In this case, the discharged mucus may be thick and whitish.
Swelling and edema. Your face may develop a "puffy" look, particularly around the eyes and the bridge of the nose. The skin may have a blotchy, reddened appearance, and your eyes may seem red and watery. To an untrained observer, in short, you may look as though you are suffering from a chronic cold.
These are some of the signs. I have not listed them here with any thought of encouraging you to diagnose yourself. Self-diagnosis is foolish and unreliable, even for physicians. I have given you this list simply to help you prepare yourself for a visit to your doctor. Go down the list and check off any of the symptoms that you think you have noticed, and then tell your doctor about them. This will give him useful guidance in making his own diagnosis.
In the case of sinus headaches, acupressure may serve a double function. It relieves pain and also may relieve some of the congestion that might be causing or contributing to the pain.
There are many brands of drugs, some sold by prescription and others sold over the counter, that offer to produce the same two results. Let us look briefly at some of those drugs. I would like to convince you that your life will be better-and perhaps will last longer-if you stop taking them.
Many popular cold and sinus remedies-Dristan, Coricidin, Super Anahist, Alka Seltzer Cold Tablets contain aspirin as a pain reliever. We have already seen some of the dangers in that drug. Other mass-market remedies-Co-Tylenol, Sinutab, Sinarestcontain acetaminophen. This is an analgesic, or pain deadener, that is advertised as lacking some of aspirin's toxic effects and is recommended for people in whom those effects are unusually severe. However, acetaminophen is also toxic in its own way. An overdose can cause liver failure and, in rare cases, even death. Anybody with less than a perfectly healthy liver should be cautious about taking this drug.
Nearly all cold and sinus medicines also contain antihistamines, which are designed to reduce the "runny nose" condition. These often cause drowsiness, which could have lethal effects if you get behind the wheel of a car or operate any other dangerous machine. At best, this drowsiness can affect your work. Many popular sinus drugs include caffeine, a stimulant that is supposed to counteract that drowsy condition. However, the usual dose of thirty milligrams of caffeine is unlikely to have much effect. A cup of coffee contains about one hundred milligrams.
Most of these same medicines contain decongestants. These are designed to constrict swollen blood vessels in the mucous membranes of the nose and sinus cavities. However, the problem is that decongestants do not affect those blood vessels alone. They constrict all the blood vessels in the body. In so doing, they generally raise the blood pressure-which, in some people, can be dangerous. With auto-acupressure, you can get relief without the hazards. The choice is yours to make.
THE SINUS PRESSURE POINTS
YOUR MEDICAL DOCTOR determines that your headaches originate from a sinus condition, then ask his advice about pain relief. In all likelihood he will tell you that you can use auto-acupressure safely as long as you follow all of his other directions with care. His aimand of course it should be yours too-will be to attack the underlying problem that is causing the pain. That process may take some time, for sinus problems do not always yield to treatment as quickly as the sufferer might wish. While you are waiting for the doctor's treatment to take effect, auto-acupressure can help you control the pain without subjecting yourself to dangerous drugs.
I must warn you that, in using acupressure, there is potential danger of a different kind. The danger lies in its remarkable effectiveness. If you find that your pain is significantly relieved, you may be tempted to assume your sinus condition has been cured or has gone away by itself. That is a dangerous assumption, for it may make you too casual about seeing your doctor regularly. More than many other headache-causing conditions, sinus infections usually call for frequent medical checkups and renewals or changes of treatment. If your doctor requests return visits, do not ignore him. Follow his advice.
Now let us look at the sinus pressure points. As with the Group One points, I will begin by telling you what and where they are, and then I will give you some special directions on how and in what order to use them.
WHAT AND WHERE THEY ARE
Chinese name: Yu Yao
Suggested pronunciation: you-yow
Translation: Fish Waist
Affected nerve: The supraorbital nerve, which runs above the eye and is connected with a complex of other nerves in the head and face.
How to find it: It lies in the center of your eyebrow, directly above the pupil of your eye when you are looking straight ahead. If you run your thumbnail along your eyebrow, digging in slightly, you will find a small depression at the indicated place. Sinus 1 is in that depression.
As with all the other points, it is important to find exactly the right spot. If you are a fraction of an inch off target, you will merely be pressing on bone and of course will get no significant headache relief. The Sinus 1 point, like the others, has a definitely tender feeling when you are pressing it properly.
How To PRESS SINUS 1. As with other paired points on the head, use a hand position that is comfortable and allows you to exert hard pressure. Some prefer to interlace the fingers, as shown. Others put the fingers on the forehead or top o f the head.'
Chinese name: Szu Pai
Suggested pronunciation: sue pie
Translation: Four Whites
Affected nerve: The infraorbital nerve.
How to find it: It is directly below the pupil of your eye. Put your thumbnail about one and a half finger breadths below your lower eyelid. The thumbnail should be resting on bone-the top of your cheekbone, or more exactly the lower ridge of your eye socket.
''Move the thumbnail back and forth beneath your eye pupil until you find a small depression. It will feel something like a tiny notch in the bone. Sinus 2 is within that little notch.
Press inward and slightly downward, not upward toward the eye. You should feel hard resistance from the bone behind the notch. If you find yourself pressing into a soft, fleshy area and displacing your eyeball, you have missed the target. You are too high. On the other hand, if your thumbnail is on the main protuberance of your cheekbone-the rounded portion of it-you are too low. Sinus 2 is in the very rim of the bony eye socket.
How To PRESS SINUS 2. The laced-finger position shown is effective for most people. Note that the pressure is directly against the bony ridge-inward and slightly downward. Don't let your thumbnail slide into the soft, fleshy area. just below the eye.
Chinese name: Yin Tang
Suggested pronunciation: yin tang
Translation: Seal Hall
Affected nerve: The supratrochlear nerve.
How to find it: Put your thumbnail just above the bridge of your nose, exactly at midpoint between the inner ends of your two eyebrows. You will find a small, flattened, triangular area of bone. If you explore around it you will find two ridges-one on each side. These are the inner ends of the bony ridges over your eyes. The triangular area is formed where they converge.
Nose 1 is exactly in the middle of the flattened triangle. When you press it correctly, you should feel a sensation that seems to spread to the inner parts of your nose and into the passage leading to the back of your throat.
How To PRESS NOSE 1. Lace the fingers so as to make a single strong unit of the two hands. Use one thumb to reinforce the other, and push the thumbnail in hard. There should he a strong awareness of a "traveling" sensation in the nose and perhaps the throat.
HOW TO USE THEM
Use the same pressure technique I have explained under "general directions" for the Group One points. To reiterate briefly, this means using hard pressure with the thumbnail, either steadily or in a rhythmic off-and-on technique, for fifteen to thirty seconds.
The sinus and nose points may need to be stimulated much more often than would be necessary for a tension headache. One of the more attractive features of auto-acupressure, of course, is that you can use it as often as you like with no danger of overdose. If your headache and/or stuffed or runny nose symptoms return frequently, use pressure at will, as often as you feel the need to do so.
All headaches, of whatever origin, should be treated first with the Group One points in the ordinary way. Many sinus sufferers find that the Group One points are perfectly adequate for relieving their pain. Try them first. If it works for you, you can ignore Sinus 1 and 2.
If you find that the Group One points are not effective against your headaches, then turn to Sinus 1 and 2. Use Hand 1 or 2 first, however. As you will remember, the hand points have the function of reducing tenderness in your head. If you do not use one of the hand points first, you may find that you are reluctant to apply the necessary hard pressure points on your head.
Use Nose 1 last. The function of this special point will be explained below.
Pressure on this point is designed particularly to relieve congestion in the frontal sinuses, the ones above the eyes. The congestion may be temporarily relieved at the same time as the head pain.
With this point, as with Sinus 2, there is no convenient way to augment thumb leverage by applying opposing force with the fingers. You simply have to push with your thumbs, remembering to keep them bent so as to get the maximum force from thumb and hand muscles.
Most people find it comfortable to clasp the fingers in front of the forehead so as to make a single, strong unit of the two hands. Others prefer to rest the fingertips on the forehead or just behind the hairline, with the hands side by side. Still others find it more effective to put one hand over the other, resting the fingers of the bottom hand flat on the forehead.
Both the Sinus 1 points should be pressed simultaneously, even if your headache seems to be entirely on one side.
Press this point to relieve congestion in, and pain arising from, the lower sinuses, particularly the maxillary. Remember, again, to keep your thumbs bent. For some people, this pair of points can be pressed very effectively by clasping the fingers in front of the nose, or by clasping them in such a way that the tip of nose touches one forefinger. Others find they can generate more force by making the two hands into fists and pushing the two sets of knuckles together below or in front of the nose. As is true of all acupressure points, you will find your own best approach by experimenting. The approach that suits you best will depend on factors such as the relative size of your head and hands, the length of your thumbs, the strength of your hands and wrists.
Like all other paired points, the Sinus 2 pair should be pressed simultaneously. As I have noted before, the apparent or subjective location of any pain sensation is not always a reliable indication of its source. Pain can be referred from a diseased or injured area to some other area quite far away on the body, and this sometimes happens with sinus headaches. Pain on the left often indicates a problem on the left-but not always. It can happen that an infection in the left maxillary sinus, for example, produces pain in the right side of the head. If you press the sinus point on that side only, you may not relieve the pain at all-or, just as frustrating, you may make it "travel" to the other side. Thus, always press both sides.
This single point, when you press it correctly, is helpful in clearing a stuffed nose and alleviating a runny nose. Pressure on this point, unlike the others, does not directly to relieve head pain. But it may relieve pain indirectly by helping to clear the nasal passages.
To press this point with good effect, use your strongest hand-your right hand, in other words, if you are right-handed. Put the hand crosswise on your forehead, with the nail of your bent thumb in the Nose 1 triangle and your fingertips against or just above your temple. Push until you feel a sensation of pressure within and behind your nose.
For greater effect, some people find it useful to reinforce the pressing thumb with the fingers or thumb of the other hand.
Let me remind you here that, while the pressure must be forceful on this and all other points, it should never be so strong as to break the skin. I mention it here because, unlike the other pressure points, with the exception of Head 1 (the areas just beyond the outer edge of the eye sockets), Nose 1 is really the only point where a blemish would be conspicuous. Nobody wants to walk around wearing the mark of Cain at the top of his nose.
When stimulating a point such as Nose 1, common sense is required. It may be necessary, in order to exert adequate force, for a "Junior Miss" to brace the fingers of the pressing hand against the temple and reinforce the pressing thumb with the other hand, as described. For a "Hercules type" to do this with all his strength would be overzealous.
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