Do you suffer from headaches on a seemingly constant basis? If you have 15 or more headache days per month, then you are dealing with a chronic headache condition. One way to reduce the frequency of headaches is to know what triggers an episode. However, it is even more important to find the underlying cause of the headaches and eliminate it. Therefore, after we discuss our list of the 10 most common headache triggers, we will also look at a natural form of care that many headache suffers are getting excited about.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a trigger you have any control over. Fluctuations in weather ranging from temperature and humidity to the barometer and proximity of lightning strikes can cause a headache to come on. At least you can use weather reports to plan ahead, although some have taken the more drastic measure of moving to an area with a climate better for their headache condition.
This is key for headache sufferers. Tension headache isn’t a misnomer. We store tension in the neck and shoulders, and that can turn into a headache that feels like someone is tightening a band around your head. We can’t avoid all stress, so learning to cope with it is vital.
#3 Missing Meals
It can be easy to skip lunch on a busy workday, but productivity may suffer more if you end up with a headache in the afternoon than if you step away from the desk for half an hour during the day to eat.
#4 Lack of Sleep
Failure to get enough sleep is another culprit when it comes to headaches and migraines. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Also, don’t let mobile devices keep you up. Light from the screen can convince your body that it is still daytime, so once you go to bed, plug in devices that need to be charged and leave them there.
#5 A Sedentary Lifestyle
Exercise helps to improve circulation and that, in turn, helps bring oxygen-rich blood to the brain. But consider the modern lifestyle many of us lead. We sit for long hours in a car or on a bus or train for our morning commute. Then we sit all day at work. Then we repeat the seated commute home. Finally, we sit on the couch watching the game or binge-watching our favorite shows on Netflix. That’s the kind of lifestyle that has chronic headaches written all over it.
#6 Poor Posture
While we are on the topic of sitting all day, think of how we sit. A slouched position with the head tilted forward to look at a screen or the neck craned to look at a smartphone dozens of times per day is the recipe for neck pain and headaches, two conditions that frequently go hand-in-hand. Practicing proper posture throughout the day is important for keeping headaches away.
#7 Hormone Levels
This is a trigger that primarily affects women. Many women, especially those who get migraines, experience more headaches during menses, while pregnant, or during menopause. Clearly, there is a link between headaches and hormone fluctuations.
#8 Dietary Triggers
Food and drink doesn’t usually trigger a headache unless a person has a sensitivity. So we can’t provide a list of all the foods and drinks to avoid. Your own personal list will be unique to you. You may want to keep a food diary for a time and note when headaches occur. This can help you to see a pattern.
Of course, there are a few culprits that are more commonly associated with headaches. Some of these include:
- Aged cheeses
- Cured meats
- Foods containing MSG
- Caffeinated beverages
Another thing to watch out for is how much water you drink. Make this a part of your food journal as well because you may be surprised at how little water you consume, especially if you sit a desk all day. Make sure to have at least 8-12 glasses of water per day. This will keep you well hydrated and will have other health benefits as well. You may even experience fewer headaches.
#10 Medication Overuse
This is the big one. Unfortunately, headache medications are not meant for frequent or long-term use. So after a while, you get what is called a rebound headache or medication overuse headache. The very pills you reach for to stop the current headache causes the next one and the cycle gets worse. If you are suffering from chronic headaches and regularly take over-the-counter pills, the best way to determine how many of your headaches are caused by the medication is to stop taking it for a couple of weeks. You may be surprised to see how many fewer headaches you get.
Helping Headache Patients
We promised you a natural way to get to the source of headaches, so we would like to introduce you to upper cervical chiropractic care. This niche in the chiropractic field is helping many to find natural relief, even from chronic headache conditions. In fact, one research paper reports on 101 headache and migraine patients and the benefits they received from upper cervical chiropractic care. Some went from daily headaches to none after just one or two adjustments.
While benefits vary from person to person, many have found significant relief, with headaches becoming less frequent or severe. If you would like to learn if this form of care is for you, contact an upper cervical practitioner in your area to schedule a no-obligation consultation.