Lack of oxygen, caused by poor breathing or breath obstruction, is one of the hidden, yet most direct, causes of headaches. That’s why relief from head pain may be only a few breaths away.
Oxygen is the most vital element you need to live. Without air, we die fairly quickly. Indeed, life begins with a breath and a cry and ends with a final exhalation. Yet, while the atmosphere offers us an ample oxygen supply, we neglect to put it to best use. We rarely fill our lungs. We take quick short breaths and compromise our health.
The Chinese have a proverb, which, loosely translated, says: When you’re born, you intuitively inhale deeply from your stomach; at middle age, you breathe from the middle of your chest; as you approach the end of life, your breath is restricted to your throat.
In other words, the less full and more superficial our breathing, the closer to death we seem to be. We should breathe from our stomachs, expanding and contracting the abdomen, which facilitates a full and complete breathing cycle. It draws fresh air to the bottom of the lungs and expels stale air from the same depths.
Oxygen Deprivation Causes Headaches
Although you may not pay attention to your breathing, it can make you ill or boost your body’s power to heal. Think about the last time you felt stressed out. If your breathing shortened and grew belabored, it may have given you a pounding headache.
When you are stressed, focus on your breathing, taking in relaxed, deep breaths. Instantly, you become more tranquil, your breathing cycle steadied. Breathing deeply in this manner can actually stave off a headache.
Without enough oxygen in the lungs, the organs cannot function properly. As a result, toxins accumulate in the bloodstream and vascular headaches ensue. This happens because low oxygen levels initiate the widening of blood vessels and bring on migraines. To prevent this, supply more oxygen to the brain by breathing deeply and exercising.
Yawning is a sign you’re oxygen-deprived. When you’re tired, under stress and sitting for too long, shallow breathing limits your oxygen supply. Consequently, a yawn brings in a deep breath of air in an instant. Yawning may also be a sign that an oxygen-deprivation headache is imminent.
People who frequently snore when they sleep, sleep facedown or sleep in poorly ventilated areas are susceptible to getting cluster headaches that result from restricted levels of oxygen. In these cases, oxygen from a tank of pure oxygen may cut short the beginning of a cluster headache. Research shows that breathing in pure oxygen may cut the incidence of cluster headaches by up to 80 percent.1
Oxygen therapy is a century-old mainstay in headache treatment in the West. There are two main types of oxygen therapy: oxidation and oxygenation. Both of these treatments have been proven effective in treating conditions such as circulatory problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies and headaches.2
The shortcoming of these methods is that they treat headache symptoms after they have occurred, rather than preventing them from arising in the first place. But you should always remember: Trying to relieve pain after a headache starts is not as beneficial as preventing these headaches from ever occurring.
Fill Your Lungs
Oxygen-deprivation headaches are the result of improper breathing. Breathing properly is the prevention method that takes you closer to a cure.