Headaches are a common ailment that many people encounter from time to time in the course of their lives but for those who suffer chronic headaches, the pain can be debilitating.
According to the National Headache Foundation nearly 80% of the adult population suffers from headaches with tension headaches being the most common. Migraines make up an additional 13% of the population and though they are less often they are one of the most painful.
The causes of migraines vary and are unique to the sufferer however the frequency of both migraine and tension headaches can be lessened with a few lifestyle changes.
The Foods We Eat
Many processed foods contain chemical additives that can trigger a migraine so by minimizing our intake we are reducing our chances of a flare up. There is also a connection with artificial sweeteners that has come to light. If you suffer from these types of sensitivities, remove them from your diet.
You may notice that many pain relievers include caffeine although too much caffeine can trigger a “rebound” head so reading labels is important. Drinking caffeinated beverages and taking pain medication may intensify the condition so it's best to avoid double dosing when you are experiencing a headache.
Skipping meals and becoming dehydrated may also trigger a headache so eating frequent small meals and keeping fluid levels in check can decrease the occurrence in chronic sufferers.
Getting enough sleep is paramount if you suffer tension headaches. By getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep, you can keep stress levels in check and minimize headaches. Be wary of over sleeping as this can bring on a flare up as well. Keep a routine even on weekends and holidays.
Mild exercise is good for our bodies but also a great stress reducer. Increasing oxygen and blood flow is a perfect solution to rid a body of excess tension and stress toxicity.
Again, moderation is the key. Excessive exercise, lack of hydration and too much sun is a recipe for a full blown headache.
Although alcohol can help ease tension, the tannins in red wine can trigger a migraine so avoiding alcohol may be necessary until your headings are under control.
We all suffer from headaches from time to time and normally an over the counter pain reliever can do the trick to get us up and running again. But chronic headaches require medical intervention. Speaking to your primary care provider is critical for a proper diagnosis.
If you suspect your headaches are occurring more than normal, keeping a pain journal is a good way to keep track of the frequency and the triggers.
By taking control of your diet and simple modifications to your lifestyle, you and your physician can develop a treatment plan to help you find long term relief from the crippling effects of chronic headaches.