What Causes a Headache Anyway?

10 most common headache triggers

It's not just loud music or a tight deadline or even an impending visit from your mother-in-law. With so much going on, it can be hard to avoid headaches, but there are a few common (and unexpected) things you can learn to avoid to prevent pain in the future.

Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities

Food and drink release neurotransmitters, which can cause headaches in some people. Common food triggers include aspartame, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and cheese to name a few.


Hormones

Hormones

When estrogen levels drop (especially right before your period), you may be more likely to get a headache. Keep track of your cycle and plan when you can.


Posture

Posture

Your mom was right! Sit up straight to keep blood flowing (and move around when you can if you spend extended periods of time bent over a desk).


Lack of physical activity

Lack of physical activity

Even though over-exertion can increase your risk for headaches, staying sedentary doesn't help either. As with most things in life, moderation is key. Talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.


Physical activity

Physical activity

Take it easy in the gym. Pushing too hard can result in an exertional headache from the swelling of blood vessels in your head, neck and scalp.


Medication

Medication

Some prescription medications may have the potential to trigger a headache. If you notice an increase, talk to your doctor.


Eating & sleeping patterns

Eating & sleeping patterns

Eat when you're hungry. Sleep enough (not too much or too little), and don't sleep in an odd position in a cold room - it can make your muscles spasm.


Noise

Noise

It's not just loud, repetitive sounds. Even lower level or continuous noise can hurt. Calming music and headphones may help.


Glare

Glare

Brightness from your computer screen, sunlight or overhead lights can make things painful. Turn them down and try adding a desk lamp.


Anxiety

Anxiety

Stress can take a toll on you. Breathe, relax and take a stroll.


“So what should I do?”

Well, every body is different. But knowing what works for you (and what doesn't) can help you avoid headaches in the future. Listen to your body. It's smarter than you think! Experiment and see what works for you.


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