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A Handbook of Health by Woods Hutchinson

Most of these headache medicines


The Nervous System is not easily Damaged. The nervous system is subject to a good many more diseases than are either the muscles or the bones; but, considering how complex it is, it is not nearly so easily damaged or thrown out of balance as we usually imagine, and has astonishing powers of repair. Instead of being one of the first parts of the body to be attacked by a disease, such as an infection or a fever, it is one of the very last to feel the effects of disease, except in the sense that it often gives early that invaluable danger signal, pain.

Headache. Next after fatigue the most valuable danger signal given us by our nerves is that commonest of all pains, _headache_. Indeed, it is not too much to say that headache is the most useful pain in the world. It has little to do with the condition of the brain, but occurs in the head chiefly because the nerves of the head and face are the most sensitive of all those in the body, and the first ones, therefore, to "cry out" when hurt.

Headache has been described as the cry of a poisoned or starved or over-worked nerve, and is simply nature's signal that something is going wrong. Toxins, or poisons, formed anywhere in the body, from any cause, get into the blood, are carried to the sensitive nerves of the head and face, and irritate them so that they ache. It is foolish to try to do anything to the

head itself for the relief of headache, although cold cloths, or a hot-water bottle, may be soothing in mild cases. The thing to do is to clear the poison out of the blood, and the only way is to find what has caused it.

Nearly all the things that cause headache do so by poisoning the blood. A very common cause of headache, for instance, is getting over-tired, especially if at the same time you do not get enough sleep; and, as you already know, tiredness, or fatigue, is a form of self-poisoning. Another very common cause of headache is bad air--sitting or sleeping in hot, stuffy rooms with the windows shut tight. If you do this, not only are you not getting oxygen enough into your blood to burn up the waste poisons that your own cells are making all the time, but also you are breathing in the waste poisons from other people's lungs, and the germs that are always in bad air.

Another very common cause of headache is _eye-strain_. Whenever you find that, when you try to read, the letters begin to dance before your eyes, and your head soon begins to ache, it is a sign that you need to have your eyes examined and perhaps a pair of glasses fitted to enable you to see properly.

Constipation and disturbances of digestion also very often cause headache by poisoning the blood; and, as you know, the first sign of a bad cold, or the beginning of a fever, or other illness, will often be a bad headache.

In short, a headache always means that something is going wrong; and the thing to do is to set to work at once to see if you can find out what has caused it, and then to remove the cause. If you cannot find out the cause, then go to a doctor and ask him to tell you what it is, and what to do to get rid of it.

Above all things, don't swallow a dose of some kind of headache medicine, and go on with your work, or your bad habits of eating, or using your eyes; because, even though it may relieve the pain, it doesn't do anything whatever to remove the cause and leaves you just as badly off as you were before you took it. Besides, most of these headache medicines, which for a time will relieve the pain of a headache, are narcotics, or pain-deadeners; and in more than very moderate doses they are poisons, and often dangerous ones. Those in commonest use, known as the "coal tar" remedies, because the chemists make them out of coal tar,[27] are likely to have a weakening effect upon the heart; and, while not very dangerous in small doses, they are very bad things to get into the habit of using.

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