Does your head hurt? Again? While there are dietary changes you can make to help keep headaches at bay, here are the most common types of headache and five ways to make lifestyle choices that can help reduce or eliminate headaches and the onset of migraine attacks.
Common headache types
There are many varieties of headache, based on the cause and symptoms — and there are many ways to reduce and treat headaches.
Tension headaches are familiar to many adults. These start slow, hurt on both sides of the head and feature a dull to moderate pain. The most obvious treatment here is to reduce stress-inducing activities. Over-the-counter medications usually are advised for tension headaches, as well as relaxation practices.
Migraine often involves intense throbbing pain, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and loss of appetite. Women are more likely than men to experience migraine, and migraine headaches often run in families. You should start by seeing your primary care provider if you’ve recently started experiencing frequent migraine headaches.
Headache School, presented by the Norton Neuroscience Institute Headache Center, is an on-demand virtual series of five video presentations designed to inform patients about their headaches, why they should see a specialist, and what treatments are available.
Learn more or register
Cluster headaches are sudden and severe, and occur usually behind one eye. They tend to happen many times daily, in groups. Cluster headache common triggers include foods high in nitrates such as bacon, as well as tobacco use.
Here are 5 ways to get rid of headaches (or at least slow them down)
- Sleep hygiene: Go to bed at about the same time every night and get up about the same time in the morning. Start a wind-down routine about an hour before bed that includes activities such as a warm shower, a warm decaffeinated drink or meditation. Aim for eight to nine hours of sleep in a cool, dark room.
- Exercise: As little as 30 minutes a day three times a week can reduce the severity of migraine. Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure.
- Eat regular meals: See the link above for specific food choices, and be sure not to skip meals. Additionally, be wary of preservatives in foods (think MSG) and be careful with alcohol consumption as these can trigger headaches.
- Manage stress: Meditation, yoga and hobbies can help lower stress in our lives. Take time to breathe and do the things you love.
- Avoid triggers: The American Migraine Foundation has a list of common headache triggers. Know your triggers and avoid them as much as you can.