Sometimes you can get a headache if you’re dehydrated or tired, but there are other common causes many people may not be aware of.
Recent research shows that women may struggle with them more often – as one study found females are twice as likely than men to suffer migraines, which can last for up to three days and lead to vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise.
The study, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, discovered changes in hormones could be one of the reasons women are more affected, as any fluctuation in oestrogen can trigger pain in the head.
Other scientific reports suggest there may be links between high cholesterol levels and migraine headaches and this comes down to dietary and lifestyle decisions. However, there are also other lesser-known causes that could be simple to fix.
Dr Earim Chaudry, MD of men’s health platform Manual, provides expert tips and tricks on preventing and relieving headaches and migraines.
“Chemical activity in your brain can cause headaches. It is often the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull, or the muscles of your head and neck that can play a role in causing headaches,” he said.
“There are several common causes of headaches, including, but exclusive to emotional stress, infections, fever, head colds, dehydration. Fortunately, there are also several ways headaches can be eased, treated, and even prevented.”
Here are Dr Earim’s top tips for headaches:
Improve your posture
“Many may not realize that having poor posture can trigger headaches. Tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders can lead to a headache and typically, the pain throbs in the base of the skull and sometimes flashes into the face, especially the forehead.
“Ideally you want to avoid slumped shoulders, sitting in one position for a long period of time and to help reduce headaches, take short, regular walks.
Don’t skip meals
“If you are skipping meals for a long period, this can cause your blood sugar levels to drop. In response to this, your body will release a hormone that signals your brain you’re hungry and these same hormones can increase your blood pressure and tighten your blood vessels, triggering a headache.”
Take hourly breaks when staring at a screen
“Staring at bright screens all day will lead to eye strain, blurred vision, and long-term vision problems.
“The brain is channeled to direct the eye muscles to constantly readjust focus between the RPA and the front of the screen. Channeling where our eyes want to focus and where they should be focusing can lead to eye strain and eye fatigue, both of which can trigger a headache.
“Screens also emit blue light, which disrupts our circadian rhythms at night when we’re trying to fall asleep. Lack of sleep is also a trigger for tiredness, causing headaches.
“If you find you are affected by prolonged periods of screen time, blue-light-blocking products such as eyewear and screen protectors will help to reduce symptoms of blue light exposure such as headaches, eye irritation, and fatigue.”
Avoid certain food and drink
“There are several foods and drinks that can contribute to headaches and particularly migraines. These include; processed foods that contain nitrates, aged cheeses, pickled and fermented foods, salty foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and artificial sweeteners.
“All of the listed food and drinks contain certain chemicals that trigger functions in your body that can cause headaches. For example, salty processed foods with high levels of sodium can increase blood pressure, causing headaches or migraine attacks.
Take pain relievers
“While it may seem like an obvious one, pain relievers will work with your cells, your body’s nerve endings, your nervous system, and your brain to prevent you from feeling the pain.
“Studies show aspirin to be the best OTC (over the counter) medication for relieving pain, and ibuprofen is also an extremely effective method of pain relief.
“Taking pain killers without food can irritate the stomach lining, so it is best to take them with food, or a glass of milk.
“If you find that you are suffering from severe headaches, or headaches for several days in a row, consult your GP or another qualified medical professional.”
“Exercise helps to keep the body and mind healthy and promote better circulation, which can reduce the chances of triggering a headache.
“Regular, moderate exercise will help, such as briskly walking or riding a bike for 30 minutes a day, particularly outdoors to get fresh air into the body.”
If your headache keeps coming back, or you feel sick and find light or noise painful, you should see your GP. If an injury has caused your headache, or if you experience other symptoms, you should call 111 or maybe even 999.
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