What’s Triggering Your Headaches?

Friday, August 23, 2013 12:00 PM

headachesHeadaches can be more than just a pain, interrupting your day-to-day life and making it difficult to concentrate on even the simplest tasks. The key to finding your way through the pain could be determining its type and trigger. 

There are many types of headaches and they vary in severity from person to person and type to type:

  1. Tension. Sometimes referred to as an “everyday” headache, they are the most common type and usually manifest as a constant ache around the head, at the temples or the back of the neck.
  2. Cluster. These are recurring headaches that come in cycles. They begin suddenly, and can be severe and often debilitating.
  3. Migraine. Migraines are severe headaches that can last between 4 and 72 hours. The pain is often exhibited on one side of the head. Migraine sufferers report sensitivity to light and sound, and often nausea and/or vomiting. 

What could be triggering your headaches? Steven Meyers, MD, Neurologist and Head of the Headache Program at NorthShore, discusses some common headache triggers:

  • Hormone level fluctuations. This most often occurs for women during menstruation. During menstruation, hormone levels can increase and drop dramatically, causing headache and migraine.
  • Sleep. When and how long you sleep can be very important. Disruption to your sleep pattern, irregular hours, too little or too much sleep can all cause headaches. Avoid changes in your sleep pattern when possible, and this includes oversleeping on the weekends.
  • Diet. Common foods, drinks and additives can cause headache pain. To determine your food sensitivities, keep a diary of your headaches and what you eat. By eliminating the food, you could decrease the frequency and severity of your headaches. If you suffer migraines, keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
  • Caffeine. Small amounts of caffeine can help when you have a headache but frequent and excessive consumption can cause and even worsen headaches.
  • Stress. Stress levels can make a big impact on your health. Reducing stress levels can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches. Try exercise, stretching and relaxation techniques like meditation. 
  • Weather. Headaches can be triggered by changes in weather patterns in some particularly sensitive people. There is not much that can be done when it comes to weather but anticipating these changes and taking preventative measures could help.

Do you suffer from headaches? Do you know your headache triggers?

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