If you’re one of the many people that suffer from frequent headaches, then you’ll know just how difficult life can get sometimes. No matter what you do, it’s impossible to do things at your best when you’re suffering, which results in stress, which causes an even worse headache. It’s a horrific cycle, but it can be beaten. When you have a headache, the world may seem like it’s literally ending and there’s nothing you can do about it, (I complain non stop until it’s gone) but there is.
Here are fifteen things that you can do to prevent a headache or stop one in its tracks.
Watch Your Medication
For most people, when a headache strikes, the medicine cabinet is their first port of call. Using painkillers for headaches certainly makes sense, and does work in the short term, but in the long run, it’s not going to do you any favours. Overusing pain medication can actually increase the risk of rebound headaches, which are often much more painful than the headache you’re currently suffering from. Using painkillers for mild headaches also means that you won’t feel the effect as much when you have a moderate one. Before you start popping pills, try a few of the other remedies below.
Keep A Diary
Headaches very rarely come on for no reason, so it makes sense to write down every time you have a headache and come up with a list of potential triggers. These can include things like the types of foods you’ve eaten, what you’ve drunk throughout the day, how much you’ve drunk, how much sleep you had the night before, and anything else you think might be of relevance. Once you’ve done this a couple of times, you’ll start to notice the same things in different lists, so you’ll know what your triggers are and you can avoid them. (This has really helped me!)
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of dehydration, so if you’ve been stuck with your headache for a while, then it might be time to start drinking a bit more water. It’s commonly recommended that you drink between eight and ten glasses of water a day, but, as a general rule, you should take a sip of water whenever you feel thirsty. Of course, many people don’t drink enough water because of its bland taste, but you could give yours a bit more flavour by adding some slices of fruit. I find that the majority of the time when I have a headache it’s because I haven’t had enough water. Now I keep a bottle of water near me at all times so I can take a sip whenever I’m thirsty.
Moderate Caffeine Intake
If you’re somewhat of a coffee lover, then you’ll be sad to know that your favourite beverage might be the cause of all of your troubles. Caffeine withdrawal is a huge trigger for headaches, and unfortunately, because of its dehydrating effects, you can’t simply drink more to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Instead, you should consider cutting down on caffeinated products, and drink no more than a couple of cups of coffee a day, as this won’t be enough to result in withdrawal. (Sorry ladies!)
Get Some Rest
When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you wake up in the morning feeling cranky, distant, tired, and, more often than not, suffer headaches throughout the day. This is because lack of sleep or simply poor sleep is another cause of headaches, especially the horrific head splitting kind. To avoid these headaches, you should take steps to improve your sleep, including going to bed and waking up at the same time, cutting down on screen time before bed, and keeping your room cool, dark, and quiet.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Regardless of whether or not you “get hangovers”, alcohol can still cause headaches, so it might be time to cut down a little or eliminate it completely. If you want to go out and have a few drinks, you are in luck, because not all alcohol has the same effects on everyone. This means that, if red wine if causing you some problems, you could try white for a little while and see if your headaches improve. If you can avoid alcohol altogether, then great, but if you can’t, then take the time to find a drink that doesn’t cause you too much trouble.
I’m sure you’ll have no trouble trying out new cocktails right?!
In case you didn’t already know, smoking is bad for you (duh!) and causes or worsens a lot of different conditions, headaches being one of the most common ones. Smoking does this in different ways for different people. For example, for some, the nicotine is the issue, as it narrows blood vessels in the brain, which results in a migraine, whereas for other people, it’s the smell and the fumes. The only way to eliminate this cause is to stop smoking completely. Luckily, these days, there is a lot of help and advice out there to help you do this. I gave up smoking several years ago by moving onto vaping and I’ve never looked back. I never enjoyed the taste of cigarettes and the flavours you can buy when vaping are endless!
Everyone knows that stress is a massive cause of headaches, the problem is that reducing your stress levels is often much easier said than done. Thankfully, there are lots of different things that you can try to help manage and reduce your stress, such as meditation, yoga and other exercises, and journaling. Taking just a few minutes out of your day to relax and calm yourself can do you a world of good, so make it a priority.
Get A Jog On
Exercise is a huge stress reliever, and so getting a sweat on every now and then will go a long way when it comes to reducing your headaches. When you exercise, there is also a rise of endorphins in the body, which helps to fight pain naturally. Thankfully, you don’t need to start running marathons to keep your headaches at bay; You just need to start incorporating more exercise into your everyday life, such as by walking to work and taking the stairs instead of a lift.
Limit Screen Time
While you’re having fun getting five seasons deep into a great show on Netflix, you are causing major strain for your eyes, which commonly results in headaches. It may seem a little silly to limit screen time for yourself, but if you want to decrease your headaches, then that’s just what you need to do. You should also consider buying a blue light filter for your electronic devices, to reduce the damage blue light causes to light-sensitive cells in your eyes.
Unless you have a fear of needles, you might want to consider visiting your nearest medical acupuncture clinic for some help with your headaches. To do this, a professional places needles in specific parts of your body to stimulate nerves, which reduces pain and reestablishes the normal flow of energy. Acupuncture is also commonly used to reduce stress and cure insomnia, so will help if these are causes of your headaches. I’ve never tried this myself but have considered it.
Turn It Down
It turns out that your parents were bang on: Loud music does result in headaches, both for them and you. If you like to listen to your headphones throughout the day, turn them down a few levels, and see if this helps at all. You also need to keep an eye on how loud you have your television and the stereo in your car. If you’re going anywhere loud, like a concert or football game, then consider taking earplugs, to reduce the chances of you getting a headache.
People that grind their teeth or clench their jaw throughout the day or while they’re asleep are a lot more likely to suffer frequent headaches than those that don’t, due to the stress you put in your jaw. Unfortunately, this can’t be controlled while you’re asleep, so you may want to speak to your dentist about your trouble, and they will give you a mouth guard to sleep with. Chewing gum also puts stress on your jaw, so you might want to kick the gum habit if you’re a frequent chewer.
Improve Your Posture
Poor posture can also cause tension in your jaw, as well as your neck and back muscles, and so also leads to headaches. To improve your posture, you should make changes to your home and office to make them more ergonomic and ensure that your neck and back are properly supported at all times. You should also take frequent breaks throughout the day and have a walk around, rather than remaining in the same seated position.
Speak To Your Doctor
If you’ve tried a few of the suggestions above and are still suffering from painful and frequent headaches then it’s time to speak to a doctor. They will have a lot of experience with headaches, and may be able to come up with a few potential triggers that you haven’t heard or thought of. They will also be able to advise you on different treatment methods that you can try and may be able to prescribe you medication that can help to relieve some pain.
Headaches aren’t fun to deal with, but they can be dealt with. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all cure for headaches, but there are lots of different things that you can try out, so don’t give up until you’ve found something that works for you.
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