Handling and possible causes of headaches

2015-12-09 06:00

STRESS is one of the biggest headache triggers, whether it’s work-related or personal. Unfortunately, modern-life stress is persistent and varied, and the headache sufferer has to find a way to minimise the pain while carrying on daily activities.
It’s often easier to reach for medication, but there are some things you can do to prevent headaches.

Headaches are often caused by dehydration. Coffee (a diuretic), salty foods or not drinking enough water could lead to dehydration. Doctors suggest drinking eight glasses of water a day to keep the body properly hydrated. This breaks down to half a glass of water every half hour.

Many people dislike downing a full glass of water in one go, and in fact, it’s not good for the body. Supply small amounts of water to your body at regular intervals, and you may find the frequency and severity of headaches diminishing. A slice of lemon or lime can help make water taste more palatable.

The second most general cause of headaches is postural. If you sit in front of a computer, drive a lot, hunch over your books while studying, you’re a candidate for a headache that stems from neck and shoulder tension.

Try not to sit for longer than 45 minutes, get up and take a short walk and fetch that glass of water. Do some shoulder-loosening exercises, like pulling your shoulders up to your ears, and then relaxing them. Turn your head gently from side to side several times to relax the muscles in your neck. This should help diminish the muscular tension that leads to headaches.

Watch out for sugar and dairy products, which can cause headaches. Eating sweets or biscuits, taking too much sugar in tea or coffee, and cool drinks all can cause a spike in blood-sugar levels. The body releases insulin that brings blood-sugar levels down, and bingo, a headache.

Another possible cause is dairy allergies, so if you suspect you might have an allergy, consult a health practitioner to establish what foods or substances trigger allergic responses. Eat a peanut butter sandwich instead of a chocolate bar, or have an apple or banana if you need to snack.

Should you experience severe headaches, or suffer from more than one headache a week, consult your doctor as there may be underlying causes that cannot be assuaged by simple self-treatment measures. - Barbara d’Engle.

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