Surprising Headache and Migraine Triggers

Warm Weather-When the temperature changes, so does the likelihood of developing a migraine. Whether it’s a heat wave or a cold snap, the change can trigger a headache. Sunny, hot days are another common culprit. Rain or changes in barometric pressure also may lead to headaches. While you can’t change the weather, you can wear sunglasses on a bright day, minimise dehydration, and avoid midday sun

Strong Smells -Strong smells – even nice ones – trigger migraines in many people. Why this happens is unclear, but the odours may stimulate the nervous system. The most common culprits are paint, perfume, and certain types of flowers.

Hair Accessories—How you wear your hair can take a toll on your head. A tight ponytail may strain the connective tissue in the scalp, leading to a hairdo headache. Headbands, braids, and tight-fitting hats can create the same effect. If this is the cause of your headache, letting your hair down usually brings fast relief.

Strenuous Exercise– Strenuous exercise, including sex, can sometimes lead to headaches. Examples include jogger’s headache and sex headache. These types of headaches are most common in people who are susceptible to migraines.

Poor Posture–You don’t have to work up a sweat to build pressure in the head and neck muscles. Slouching at your desk will do the job, too. Common forms of poor posture include hunching your shoulders, using a chair with no lower-back support, staring at a monitor that is too low or too high, and cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder. If you have frequent tension headaches, take a good look at your workspace.

Cheese– A migraine trigger for some people is aged cheese, including blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine. The longer a food ages, the more tyramine it contains.

Red Wine– Tyramine is also found in red wine and other alcoholic drinks. Other ingredients in wine may contribute to headaches as well. Because alcohol increases blood flow to the brain, the effects may be even more intense.

Processed Meats – Processed meats often contain tyramine, as well as food additives such as nitrites, which may trigger headaches in some people. Headaches caused by food additives are usually felt on both sides of the head (in contrast to a classic migraine, which strikes one side at a time).

Skipping Meals -Hunger headaches aren’t always obvious. If you skip a meal, your head could start to ache before you realise you’re hungry. The trouble is a dip in blood sugar. But don’t try to cure a hunger headache with a bar. Sweets cause blood sugar to spike and then drop even lower.

Caffeine– In moderation, caffeine is often beneficial – in fact, it’s found in many headache medications. But chain-chugging coffee can be a cause of headaches. And, if you’re hooked on caffeine, cutting back abruptly may only make things worse. Caffeine withdrawal is another headache trigger.

Smoking -Smoking is known to trigger headaches – and not just in the person holding the cigarette. Second-hand smoke contains nicotine, which causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow. Giving up cigarettes or reducing exposure to second-hand smoke appears especially helpful to patients with cluster headaches. These are extremely painful one-sided headaches that can also cause eye and nose symptoms.

Headache Solution: Identify Triggers

If you can identify your most common triggers, you may be able to cut off headaches before they start. The best way to accomplish this is through a headache diary. Keep a daily log of foods you eat, stressful events, weather changes, and physical activity. Whenever you have a headache, record the time it starts and stops. This will help you find patterns, so you can try to avoid your personal triggers.

When to See a Doctor

Any new headache that is unusually severe or lasts more than a couple of days should be checked by a doctor. It’s also important to let your health care provider know if the pattern of your headaches changes — for example, if there are new triggers. If you have a headache accompanied by vision changes, movement problems, confusion, seizure, fever, or stiff neck, seek emergency medical care.

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