Do you get chronic headaches that attack every day, no matter how many painkillers you pop into your mouth? For some people, random headaches come and go, like two ships passing in the night. But for millions of Americans, severe headache pain is a constant, debilitating fact of life. Many migraine headache patients are able to find relief in prescription pain medication, but for others the cause of their headache symptoms is still another mystery to be solved.
Symptoms of migraine headaches can include throbbing, excruciating head pain, eye strain, nausea, stomach cramps, blind spots andÂ unintelligibleÂ speech, as is the case when migraines are preceded by an aura.Â Learn more about migraines with aura:Â Migraines with Aura may Signal Birth Defect in Heart
Most headaches are caused by a certain headache trigger, according to many health experts. Â Headache triggers can be related to diet, environment or emotional states.Â Below is a list of the most common factors which cause headaches:
- Stress: According to a study published in the Cephalalgia journal, 80 percent of all headaches are triggered by stress; scientists attribute it to the “fight-or-flight” hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to cause pain and stomach upset. Stress also elevates blood pressure and causes head, neck and shoulder strain- all symptoms which can cause extreme headache suffering. RX for relief: practice deep meditation and yoga, learn breathing techniques to quiet the mind, or seek counseling.
- Hormones: Estrogen levels low? That could be a factor behind your chronic headaches. Scientists have notes strong correlations between severe headache and conditions which create hormonal fluctuations, such as menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and perimenopause. RX for relief: Keeping a headache journal will help you identify which times of the month are your trigger days. Learn more about menstrual headaches:Â Symptoms of a Menstrual Migraine
- The weather: Migraine patients often notice their headache symptoms are magnified by changes in the temperature, according to a study published in Neurology. Other migraine triggers are changes in altitude and seasons. RX for relief: If headache pain is severe, try to stay in a climate-controlled environment, particularly on hot days.
- Lack of sleep: Aside from causing stress, insomnia can also trigger headaches through low levels of serotonin, a hormone our body manufactures to promote more restful sleep. Low serotonin levels activate a nerve which is known to cause chronic migraine headaches. RX for relief: To avoid insomnia, experts advise going to bed at night and rising in the morning on a strict schedule, avoiding caffeinated beverages and incorporating some low-impact aerobics into your day. Natural Migraine Treatments: 12 Herbal Remedies that Provide Headache Relief
- Strong odors: Headache sufferers are often overly sensitive to strong scents, such as heady perfume and second-hand smoke. Â Certain odors can trigger a nerve which produces pain-giving chemicals. RX for relief: Avoid buying scented products. Also, try to avoid going into areas which are notorious for exuding powerful odors, such as department store makeup counters and the grocery store’s detergent aisle. As for the second-hand smoke, don’t be afraid to just ask somebody politely to please snuff it out.
- Bright lights: This is one of the more difficult headache triggers to avoid, as electric lighting is one of life’s Â basicÂ necessities. Chronic migraine patients often suffer tremendously from ultra-sensitivity to fluorescent lighting, sunlight and stark white surfaces. RX for relief: Try switching to soft indoor lighting, such as incandescent light bulbs. If you use a computer, protect your eyes with a screen glare deflector. Place plenty of pictures on the walls to avoid a glaringly white background. Always wear sunglasses outdoors, or ask your doctor about prescription goggles for migraine patients.
- Diet: Strong correlations exist between headaches and food triggers. Foods which are known to cause chronic headaches are agedÂ delicaciesÂ containing tyramine, nitrates or phenylalanine; for example,Â wine, cheese, dried meats and chocolate. Â RX for relief: Drink plenty of water and eat regular meals which include protein, in order to maintain stable blood-sugar levels. Keeping a headache diary will help you determine which foods are triggering your headaches, so that you may begin to cut them out of your diet. Read more about food headache triggers: 10 Golden Food Rules for Chronic Pain Sufferers
7 Headache Categories:Which Type of Headache do you Have?
Health.com, Mayo Clinic, Neurology, Cephalalgia