In a self-serving move, I thought I’d do some research dealing with headaches with lifestyle changes. To a fault, I hate taking medicine. I will stubbornly sit there with a headache while I chide my husband for not taking anything for his sinus cold. Perhaps the headaches are from a beam in my eye?
On the off-chance you aren’t as irrationally hardheaded about medication as I am, but you aren’t finding the results you want- those tablets in your hand have a message for you- “It’s not me, it’s you.” Those pills may be powerful, but they can’t do what they need to unless you first have your nutritional and other lifestyle ducks in a row. I’ll just focus on what I know- the food- and you can talk to your doctor about other lifestyle habits that could be factoring in.
Have you ever noticed some pain medication has a dose of caffeine in it? Caffeine has a multi-faceted role in pain pathways in the body as well as has been shown to increase the efficacy and speed of your tablet’s efforts.
If you are a big coffee drinker and are having headaches as you try to cut down – know the headaches will start to lessen in severity and frequency if you power through. Try an ice pack. If the constricting blood vessels don’t help, maybe the freezing cold water dripping into your hair and down your back from the inevitable hole in your ziplock baggie will distract you from your headache.
Just food in general
Low blood sugar can also be the cause of headaches. There’s no need to flood your body with sugar – a small fruit may be all you need. But if you have a bad habit of getting so busy you forget to eat until your head ever so ungently reminds you, “No, you really need to eat and you need to eat NOW”, then set your alarm for every 4 hours to remind you to think about eating before the headache starts.
Some people prone to headaches are more sensitive to dehydration than those who aren’t apt to get headaches. This is a simple problem with a simple solution. Drink up.
I know, I know- I just told you to work out when your head is throbbing. Don’t punch me. Aerobic exercise stimulates pain reducing neurotransmitters. If it makes you feel any better, I put my money where my mouth was (is that the phrase?) and tried it. It did help.
Note: some migraine sufferers are actually more likely to get a headache with exercise because of the increase in blood pressure. If this is you, exercise is still a valid and necessary option for you provided you are taking precautions. Stay hydrated, keep your blood sugars up with a snack an hour and a half before, and don’t skip the warm up. Get your body slowly acclimated to an increasing blood pressure.
What about chocolate?
Because of my deep affection for chocolate, I was overjoyed to see that chocolate has been vindicated from it’s alleged association with headaches. I was so excited about this, I decided it needed it’s own heading.
Next week I will cover ways to prevent headaches in the first place.
1//Holzhammer J1, Wöber C. [Alimentary trigger factors that provoke migraine and tension-type headache]. Schmerz. 2006 Apr;20(2):151-9. 2//D’Andrea G, Leone M, Bussone G, Fiore PD, Bolner A, Aguggia M, Saracco MG, Perini F, Giordano G, Gucciardi A, Leon A. Abnormal tyrosine metabolism in chronic cluster headache. Cephalalgia. 2016 Mar 22. pii: 0333102416640502. 3//Marcus DA1, Scharff L, Turk D, Gourley LM. A Double-Blind Provocative Study of Chocolate As A Trigger of Headache. Cephalalgia December 1997 17: 855-862. 4//Controversies in Headache Medicine: Migraine Prevention Diets 5//Effects of Exercise on Headaches and Migraines