Headaches - 8 Tips on Preventing Them - Dr. Ken Goldberg
Last year, Americans spent more than $4 billion on headache remedies, roughly $16 for every man, woman, and child. That's a lot of pills-and a lot of headaches. Too many in fact, because most of them could have been avoided in the first place. Headaches come in several varieties, but the most common types are tension and migraine. A few simple strategies can help you steer clear of either.
Despite careful precautions, life will be a headache from time to time. It’s ok (for most healthy individuals) to take an occasional mild pain reliever for those times. But if your headaches are frequent or severe, it’s a clear message to see your health care provider.
- Drink lots of liquids, especially when it's hot. Dehydration can bring on headaches.
- Get regular, moderate exercise. Exercise helps in three ways: It relieves the stress than can bring on tension headaches; it increases the production of the body's own painkillers, endorphins and enkephalins; and it improves the ability of blood vessels to dilate, which reduces the likelihood of migraine headache. Don't overdo it though. Going too hard or trying to lift heavy weights can bring on an exertion headache.
- Try not to skip meals. Headaches are more likely when your blood sugar drops because of lack of fuel.
- Avoid certain foods. The National Headache Foundation suggests that people who get migraines watch out for red wine, beer, excess caffeine, foods with MSG, aged cheese and meats, nuts, chocolate, citrus fruits, yogurt, and other foods that are pickled, aged, or fermented. Experiment with these foods to see if any trigger your migraines.
- Take time to acclimate to altitude. Skiers often suffer headaches when they go from sea level to 8,000 feet or more in a few hours. You'll feel better if you can spend a day at an in-between altitude before hitting the slopes.
- Sleep more. You're much more likely to get headaches if you burn the candle at both ends.
- Quit smoking. Add headaches to the list of reason to abandon the butts.
- Don't drink alcohol to relieve stress. You may enjoy an hour or two of oblivion, but the stress will still be there when you sober up-along with a whopper of a headache.