According to health experts, headaches and migraines have become two of the most common neurological conditions in the world. Even though they are common afflictions, dealing or coping with them isn’t any easier. Depending on the type of headache, it can range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating.
When it comes to dealing with headaches, the first thing you have to identify is the trigger. The unfortunate reality is that there are so many potential causes, which means that figuring out why you have a headache may worsen your existing headache. Identifying the headache trigger does not have to be a complicated puzzle, or at least we don’t want it to be that way. For this reason, we will discuss highly common headache triggers and how to alleviate them in this article.
Stress and anxiety are among the most common headache triggers. When the body is under stress, muscles tense up and cause tension headaches. Too much stress can trigger the release of certain chemicals in the brain that can lead to migraines. Although people resort to over-the-counter headache medications, there are natural ways to deal with stress-related headaches. Ideally, find ways to reduce stress for example, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Consider finding an activity that you enjoy, like hiking, painting, or playing music. All of these things can help you unwind and reduce stress levels.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep deprived? Well, that is a common trigger for headaches, especially migraines. When you don’t get enough sleep, the chemicals in the brain can be out of balance, making you more susceptible to headache pain. If you experience headaches on a regular basis, try to establish a consistent sleep routine. That means that you aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Ideally, you avoid caffeine, alcohol, and screens before bed, and you keep your bedroom comfortable and cool. Studies show that a sleep environment that is about 68º F is ideal for sleeping.
People love to imbibe the social lubricant, more commonly known as alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol is not only a great way to dehydrate the body and harm the liver, but it can also trigger headaches. Alcohol can dehydrate the body, and dehydration leads to headache pain. Additionally, drinking alcohol can lead to changes in blood flow and blood sugar levels in the brain, both of which can cause headaches. If you’re prone to headaches, try your best to avoid alcohol altogether. If you do choose to imbibe, do so in moderation and try to drink at least one cup of water between alcoholic beverages.
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” What you put in your body can either benefit your health or detract from it. Certain foods can help remedy headaches and nausea, while others can trigger those symptoms. Foods like cheese, chocolate, and processed meats contain harmful substances that can trigger migraines in certain people. If you skip meals or are new to intermittent fasting, you may experience headaches as well. In order to prevent food-related headache pain, try to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. Additionally, try your best to eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day, and avoid skipping meals if possible.
Hormonal imbalances or changes can cause headaches, particularly in women. Studies show that fluctuations in estrogen levels can trigger migraines in some women, most notably during menstruation or menopause. If you are a woman and want to reduce the risk of hormone-related headaches, you may want to consider hormone therapy or other treatments that work to regulate hormone levels. Some women also experience headache relief by avoiding certain foods or engaging in relaxation techniques.
Bright lights, strong smells, loud noises, and other environmental triggers can cause headaches. People who are sensitive to such environmental triggers may want to take precautions and avoid them whenever possible. If you are sensitive to bright lights, consider installing a dimmer switch or lower-wattage bulbs in your home to reduce brightness levels. Steer clear of household air fresheners, strong-scented candles, perfumes, or cigarette smoke. Lastly, wear noise-canceling headphones or earplugs if you are in a setting with loud noises.
As mentioned earlier in this article, dehydration can commonly cause headaches, especially tension headaches. When the body is dehydrated, the brain can contract and trigger headache pain. In order to prevent dehydration-related headaches, drink at least eight to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water every day. A better measurement for hydration is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 150 pounds and divide that by two to get 75, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day. You can also eat water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables to boost hydration levels.
There are many different headache triggers and each person’s triggers may be different. When you can identify your own triggers and find ways to remedy, manage, or avoid them, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches. If you tend to experience headaches on a regular basis, consider speaking with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.