Headache Triggers to Be Aware of (Hint: Stress and Red Wine are not the only ones)
For most people, completely avoiding headaches is likely impossible. Yet if you know the factors that trigger the attack, the frequency and severity of headaches could be substantially reduced. Here are some of the less known factors to be aware of.
- – Long weekends. It is well known that lack of sleep can trigger headache. However, the opposite is also true. In some people, sleeping late or binge sleeping causes so called sleep hangover. If you are one of these people, stick to your everyday schedule and resist temptation to sleep in.
- – Missing meals. Most people know that staying hydrated is important for many reasons, including lower probability of headaches. It is less known that skipping meals may have a similar effect. If you diet, try not to skip meals completely.
- – Exercise and sex. It’s always good to work out, isn’t it? No, if you are one of the people who are sensitive to overexertion. Similarly, sex is a known trigger of headaches, particularly in women. Knowing (or even keeping diary) of specific circumstances when exercise/or sex trigger headaches is essential for enjoying both activities without suffering from painful consequences.
- – Caffeine. The role of caffeine is complicated. A cup at the right time may actually relieve certain headaches, but overdosing on coffee is not going to do you much good. In people who are used to having coffee at certain times of the day, missing the regular doze can prompt a headache attack.
- – Weather. There are some reports that changes in weather could be a contributing factor. Another study tentatively links onset of headaches with thunderstorms with lightning. It is possible that changes is barometric pressure or bright flashes of light somehow affect the brain of people who are sensitive to these factors. The weather connection may or may not be statistically proven, yet see for yourself – the trigger may be highly individual.
- – Tight hairdo and hair accessories. Headbands, tight braids, and tight-fitting hats can strain the scalp. If this is the cause of your headache, try less straining fashion statements.
- – Certain medications. Some medications may cause headaches as a side effect; others, particularly analgesics, if overused, may lead to development of chronic migraines. If you suspect that this could be the case, bring it to your physician’s attention without delay.
While avoiding triggers is helpful, it is not always possible or even sufficient. The good news is that the arsenal of medications to manage headaches is quite broad. What’s more, there is a new class of drugs, so called monoclonal antibodies, that are specifically designed to prevent migraines before they start. These medications are currently undergoing clinical trials.