8 Headache triggers to avoid


Mature woman with headache

If you're prone to headaches, you may already be aware of what your triggers are. It's not always the obvious things, like stress, that can cause a problem – things like poor posture, bad weather and perfume can all cause pain too. Here are 10 headache triggers you may not have considered and how to avoid them...

1. Sleeping late
You work hard all week and can't wait for the weekend to enjoy a lie in. The only problem is, you wake up on Saturday morning with a pounding headache. If that sounds familiar, try not to sleep for more eight hours at the weekend and build in more relaxation time, such as a yoga class or meditation into the week.

2. Strong perfume
Heavy perfumes and household cleaners contain chemicals that can bring on a headache. If you get a headache after cleaning the house, think about switching the products you use and make sure the doors and windows are open as much as possible. Avoid strong perfumes and soaps and use fragrance-free air fresheners rather than heavily scented ones.

3. Poor posture
Sitting at a desk all day can cause tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders, which can lead to a headache. Headaches brought on by poor posture typically start with a throbbing pain in the base of the skull and sometimes move to the forehead. To avoid it, check you're sitting correctly at the desk and your lower back is supported. Special ergonomic keyboards and other equipment may help. If you spend lots of time on the phone think about using a headset.

4. Bad weather
Some people find that overcast skies, high humidity, rising temperatures and storms can trigger a headache. Differences in pressure are thought to trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain, which irritates nerves, resulting in a headache. If you're sensitive to a particular type of weather condition, looking at the forecast and taking a preventative painkiller in advance may help.

5. Grinding teeth
Many people grind their teeth at night, especially during times of stress, without knowing it. If you suffer with bruxism you may wake up with a dull headache, caused by your jaw muscle contracting. See your dentist if you're concerned. Special mouth guards are available to stop you grinding while you sleep.

6. Bright lights
If you suffer with migraines triggered by glare or flickering lights, invest in a pair of sunglasses and wear them inside and outside to reduce light intensity. Polarised lenses may also help to reduce glare. Computer monitors can be adjusted or attach a glare screen.

7. Food
Certain foods, such as turkey, aged cheese (like stilton and brie) and dark chocolate are known migraine triggers. Other problem foods include diet fizzy drinks and processed meats and fish. If you think your headaches or migraines are food related, keep a record of what you eat. If you notice a pattern, eliminate the food from your diet for a month to see if your headaches improve. Be careful not to skip meals though, low blood-sugar levels can also bring on a headache.

8. Dehydration
Dehydration is a common underlying cause of headaches, and can also cause fatigue, weakness, muscle pain, wrinkled skin and increased heart rate. Like tension headaches, dehydration headaches may be felt across the head. Typically, the cause pain when moving the head, especially when walking. By the time you're thirsty you may already be dehydrated, so it's important to keep your levels up by drinking six to eight glasses of water each day.

Have you found a cure for your headaches? Leave a comment below...

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