Studies suggest there may be links between high cholesterol levels and migraine headaches, which comes down to dietary and lifestyle decisions. However, there are also other common causes of headaches many people may not be aware of.
Earim Chaudry, MD of men’s health platform Manual, provides expert tips and tricks on preventing and relieving headaches and migraines. He said: ‘Chemical activity in your brain can cause headaches. It is often the nerves or blood vessels surrounding your skull or the muscles of your head and neck that can play a role in causing headaches.’
‘There are several common causes of headaches, including, but exclusive to emotional stress, infections, fever, head colds, dehydration. Fortunately, there are also several ways headaches can be eased, treated, and even prevented.’
Here are Dr Earim’s top tips for headaches:
Improve your posture
Many may not realise that having poor posture can trigger headaches. Tension in your upper back, neck and shoulders can lead to a headache and typically, the pain throbs in the base of the skull and sometimes flashes into the face, especially the forehead. Ideally, you want to avoid slumped shoulders, sitting in one position for an extended period and to help reduce headaches, take short, regular walks.
Don’t skip meals
If you are skipping meals for a long period, this can cause your blood sugar levels to drop. In response, your body will release a hormone that signals your brain you’re hungry, and these same hormones can increase your blood pressure and tighten your blood vessels, triggering a headache.
Take hourly breaks when staring at a screen
All-day, staring at bright screens will lead to eye strain, blurred vision, and long-term vision problems. The brain is channelled to direct the eye muscles to constantly readjust focus between the RPA and the front of the screen. Channelling where our eyes want to focus and where they should be focusing can lead to eye strain and eye fatigue, both of which can trigger a headache.
Screens also emit blue light, which disrupts our circadian rhythms at night when we’re trying to fall asleep. Lack of sleep is also a trigger for tiredness, causing headaches. Find you are affected by prolonged periods of screen time. Blue-light-blocking products such as eyewear and screen protectors will help reduce symptoms of blue light exposure such as headaches, eye irritation, and fatigue.
Avoid certain food and drink
Several foods and drinks can contribute to headaches and particularly migraines. These include; processed foods that contain nitrates, aged cheeses, pickled and fermented foods, salty foods, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and artificial sweeteners.
All of the listed food and drinks contain certain chemicals that trigger functions in your body that can cause headaches. For example, salty processed foods with high sodium levels can increase blood pressure, causing headaches or migraine attacks.
Take pain relievers
While it may seem obvious, pain relievers will work with your cells, body’s nerve endings, nervous system, and brain to prevent you from feeling the pain. Studies show aspirin to be the best OTC (over the counter) medication for relieving pain, and ibuprofen is also a highly effective method of pain relief.
Taking pain killers without food can irritate the stomach lining, so it is best to take them with food or a glass of milk. If you are suffering from severe headaches or headaches for several days in a row, consult your GP or another qualified medical professional.
Exercise helps keep the body and mind healthy and promotes better circulation, reducing the chances of triggering a headache. Regular, moderate exercise will help, such as briskly walking or riding a bike for 30 minutes a day, particularly outdoors, to get fresh air into the body.
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