Man in Black Crew Neck T-shirt
Man in Black Crew Neck T-shirt

Headaches scientists have theories for what the actual causes are ranging from spasming blood vessels to overly sensitive nociceptors but no one knows for sure, meanwhile most headache research is focused on more severe primary headaches. Migraines are recurring headaches which create a vice-like sensation on the skull that can last from four hours to three days in 20% of cases, these attacks are intense enough to overload the brain with electrical energy which hyper excites sensory nerve endings, this produces hallucinations called auras which can include seeing flashing lights and geometric patterns and experiencing tingling sensations.
Cluster headaches, another primary headache type cause burning, stabbing bursts of pain behind one hot leading to a red eye constricted pupil and drooping eyelid, what can be done about these conditions which dramatically affect many people’s quality of life, tension headaches and most secondary cases can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce cranial swelling and many secondary headache triggers like dehydration, eye strain and stress can be proactively avoided. Migraines and cluster headaches are more complicated and we haven’t yet discovered reliable treatments that work for everyone but thankfully pharmacologists and neurologists are hard at work cracking these pressing mysteries that weigh so heavily on our minds.

Tips to Address Triggers and Avoid Headaches

1.) Reduce stress

This may sound impossible in today’s day and age where we are constantly connected, always on the go, and love to talk about how busy we are. But, if you really want to know how to stop a headache in its tracks, you need to find ways to manage and reduce the stress in your life. Avoid overcommitting your schedule, consider trying yoga or meditation, or concentrate on a hobby that you find soothing and relaxing. Anything that makes you feel calmer and less stressed out will contribute to decreasing the frequency of your headaches.

2.) Change diet

There are many aspects of diet and nutrition that could be related to headaches. For some people, foods with certain additives or ingredients are a trigger such as chocolate or some types of cheese. For others it may be alcohol, especially red wine. Still others do not drink enough water and have headaches caused by dehydration. Food allergies or sensitivities can also play a role. Consider eliminating food or drink that you suspect to be key triggers from your diet one at a time in order to find the culprit. In general, keep in mind the importance of eating clean and nutritious meals, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated. Even simple changes can be a game-changer when it comes to headache prevention.

3.) Eliminate caffeine

While there are those who swear by caffeine as one of the more effective headache remedies (and it is even a key ingredient in popular over-the-counter migraine medication), the American Migraine Foundation recommends that migraine sufferers significantly reduce or completely eliminate their caffeine consumption. Although caffeine itself is unlikely to be the sole cause of chronic headaches, it is a risk factor and one that is relatively easy to address. It is important to note that, if you are a heavy coffee drinker, when you cut out caffeine you may experience withdrawal-induced headaches at first, but they will go away within a few days.

4.) Get some sleep

Rather than catching just one more episode of your favorite show on Netflix, going to bed a little earlier and ensuring that you get a solid eight hours of sleep can work wonders in terms of headache prevention. Try to maintain a consistent sleep/wake schedule so that your body gets used to going to bed and waking up at the same time every day regardless of whether it is a work day or the weekend or vacation.

5.) Quit smoking

While there is no proven causal link between smoking and headaches, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and statistics that point to a connection. For example, studies have found that 90% of people who suffer from chronic cluster headaches smoke. Findings like these indicate that smoking may play a role in headaches, and quitting smoking could help reduce the number of headaches you experience every month.

6.) Take preventative medications

Particularly for migraine sufferers, sometimes the best way to prevent frequent headaches is to take daily medication. Types of medications may include beta-blockers, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants, and while they may not work for everyone, studies indicate that people who could be helped by them are not necessarily taking these medications. If you experience frequent and debilitating headaches, consider speaking to your doctor about trying a daily, preventive medication.
All of the tips above can also apply to the headaches that some women get at particular points during their menstrual cycle. The hormonal fluctuations that happen just before the period starts is often the cause of this type of headache. For some women, the suggestions above may help. Others may require other types of intervention including hormonal birth control.

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