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Could certain foods or meds trigger your headaches?

headaches causes symptoms treatments

Got an aching head? You’re not the only one suffering; headaches are a common health complaint, especially for women. Tension headaches cause a mild to moderate pain that can feel like a tight band around the head; migraines usually cause severe head pain, nausea and visual disturbances. Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of other disorders, such as meningitis or a sinus infection. Chronic headaches, which occur more days than not, are considered a form of disability.

Headache causes It may be hard to pinpoint the underlying cause of some headaches. Changes in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, may affect the brain’s ability to process pain or, in the case of migraines, may trigger the release of substances that cause headache pain. Sufferers may also be experiencing a rebound effect from taking too many pain medications.

Headache symptoms Signs of a tension headache include dull, aching head pain and a feeling of pressure across your forehead or the back of your head.  Migraines have many symptoms, including severe head pain, nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances, numbness and sensitivity to light, sounds and odours.

Headache diagnosis/tests You may be tempted to diagnose yourself with migraines or other types of headaches but you should see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. There is no blood test or X-ray to diagnose headaches so she’ll conduct a physical examination and ask you to describe your symptoms. Sometimes something other than migraines, such as neurological disease, is causing the headaches even if they seem like a migraine. So you may be sent for a cranial CT scan, an examination of the head with a special three-dimensional X-ray or a cranial MRI, which is a special three-dimensional image made using a magnetic field if your doctor suspects that is the case.

Headache treatment Medications, ranging from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription drugs, can be effective for relieving headache pain. Getting some rest, massage and relaxation techniques may help treat migraines and tension headaches.

Headache prevention When headaches occur three or more times monthly, doctors may prescribe preventive treatment, such as stress reduction, avoiding certain trigger foods, such as chocolate, and in some cases, medications, such as anti-depressants or pain relievers, which can create rebound headaches. Regular exercise may help reduce the frequency of some headaches, such as migraines. If you drink caffeine and get headaches when you stop or get less than your usual amount, slowly cut back on caffeine since it may be causing your headaches. Make sure you have good posture while sitting, standing and driving and do exercises for your neck and shoulders to prevent tension. Wearing eye glasses may also help prevent headaches so get your eyes checked by an eye doctor.

Outside resources
Heacache Network Canada